This warrior queen won’t tolerate disrespect from her king or anyone else in this biting saga of female vengeance.
Good to know
Based on a classic
Why I love it
My favorite retellings are a bit like treasure-hunting in your childhood home—the familiar bones of the story are there but the shape has shifted to reveal a hidden jewel beneath. I keep turning pages long after I should go to bed, waiting for the moment where the story I think I know flips on its head. In Clytemnestra, Costanza Casati has done just this, delivering a sense of justice for the complex characters inhabiting her pages.
Clytemnestra is a warrior princess of Sparta. Although the men in her life treat her as property, she also sees firsthand the power of women and learns her own strength. So when her father schemes with King Agamemnon and his brother to kill Clytemnestra’s first husband and infant son, and forces Clytemnestra to marry Agamemnon, she never accepts it. And she never forgets. As Agamemnon’s brutality grows, ripping apart the lives of all the women she holds dear, Clytemnestra makes a choice.
It is the exquisite details that transform Clytemnestra from a deceitful, jealous queen into a strong, flawed woman who you can’t stop rooting for. If you enjoy Greek myths and retellings, Clytemnestra and her famous act of revenge are probably familiar to you—one scheming link in the tragedy that defines the House of Atreus. But here, she is so much more than that one act. Casati masterfully brings us into the heart of this hated queen, so we might see what burns inside her, and recognize her fiery spirit within ourselves.
For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, a stunning debut following Clytemnestra, the most notorious villainess of the ancient world and the events that forged her into the legendary queen.
As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best . . .
You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.
But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.
Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods’ hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.
If power isn’t given to you, you have to take it for yourself.