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Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Fantasy

Ariadne

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Jennifer Saint, on your first book!

by Jennifer Saint

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Quick take

Bringing myth to life, this reimagined story of the Princess of Crete is a riveting tale of love and betrayal.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Sad

    Sad

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Magical

    Magical

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic

  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Quest

    Quest

Synopsis

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur—Minos's greatest shame and Ariadne's brother—demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods—drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne's decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover's ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

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Content warning

This book contains mentions of suicide, suicide ideation, and death of children.
Ariadne

PROLOGUE

Let me tell you the story of a righteous man.

The righteous man of the story is King Minos of Crete, who set out to wage a great war on Athens. His war was one of retribution upon them for the death of his son, Androgeos. This mighty athlete had reigned victorious in the city’s Panathenaic Games, only to be torn to pieces by a rampaging bull on a lonely Athenian hillside. Minos held Athens responsible for the loss of his triumphing son and thirsted for blood-soaked punishment for their failure to protect the boy from the savage beast.

On his way to inflict his wrath upon the Athenians, Minos stopped to destroy the kingdom of Megara in a show of strength. The king of Megara, Nisus, was widely famed for his invincibility, but his legend was no match for the mighty Minos, who cut away the crimson lock of hair upon which Nisus’ power depended. Divested of that bloodred curl, the hapless man was slain by the conquering Minos.

How had he known to shear away Nisus’ hair? Minos would cheerfully recount to me how the king’s daughter, the beautiful princess Scylla, had fallen wildly and helplessly in love with him. As she murmured her sweet promises into his receptive ear, telling of how she would gladly give up her home and family in exchange for his love, she let slip the key to her father’s ruin.

Of course, Minos was rightly disgusted by her lack of proper daughterly devotion, and, once the kingdom had fallen with the bloody descent of his ax, he tied the lovestruck girl to the back of his boat and piously dragged her to her watery grave as she screamed and bewailed her tender trust in love.

She had betrayed her father and her kingdom, he told me, still glowing with the flush of victory on his return from the defeat of Athens. And what possible use could my father, King Minos of Crete, ever have for a treacherous daughter?

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Why I love it

We are never done with the stories of the Greek gods. There are always new threads to pull at every time we revisit an old tale. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of creative reimaginings! If you’re anything like me, you grew up on the adventures of Percy Jackson and you admire the way Madeline Miller culls a new feminist story in Circe. Rejoice, friends: Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is the book for us.

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, comes of age in a gorgeous palace with her younger sister, Phaedra. But in a different sense, the two sisters have grown up in a prison. They live at the mercy of their cruel father, and beneath their home lurks their blood-thirsty brother, the Minotaur, locked in his labyrinth. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, comes to slaughter the beast, Ariadne falls in love and betrays her family to help him, placing her trust in their future together. But it seems the Fates have something else in mind ... What transpires is a story of abandonment, sacrifice, and motherhood.

The book itself reads like a delightful labyrinth of Greek myths. You might encounter characters you’ve heard of before, but in Jennifer Saint’s hands, they feel fully embodied—flesh and blood, with desires and faults all their own. She also centers this story on the women often left behind, letting them weave their own tapestry. But you don’t need to be intimately acquainted with the Greek myths to thoroughly enjoy Ariadne. The book feels like an invitation to sit around the fire and hear these women—so often silenced—finally speak.

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Member ratings (26,496)

  • Rubinia L.

    Hutto, TX

    Ahhh I devoured this book in 3 days!!! The story and character development grabs you and does not let go until the very last sentence!! I was so compelled by the story of Ariadne and Phaedra⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Jordan C.

    Newport News, VA

    For someone who does not know a lot about Greek mythology, this story had me hooked from the first page because it was told from a female perspective! step aside male Greek characters! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Katie M.

    Greenville, NC

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Slow pace, but wonderful emotion and story telling. Why must women always pay the price for the crimes of heroes, kings, and Gods? Dual point of view: Ariadne and Phaedra (her sister).

  • Isabella B.

    San Antonio, TX

    Honestly, I’m not quite done finishing it. So I’ll come back & update this isn’t can ???? But I just started part II & my goodness talk about a plot twist! It’s gotten so good! I highly recommend this!

  • Keimani W.

    Valdosta, GA

    Wow, just wow. This booked rekindled the love I had for Greek mythology. There were so many emotions to be had whilst reading this and yet they all come together in a satisfying ending. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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