Ariadne

Jennifer Saint

Book - 2021

"A mesmerizing debut novel for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe. Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid's stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice every year. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying ...the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne's decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind? Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, outside the traditional narratives of heroism and glory that leave no room for women"--

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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Fantasy fiction
Published
New York : Flatiron Books 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
308 pages ; 25cm
ISBN
9781250773586
125077358X
Main Author
Jennifer Saint (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Ariadne and Phaedra are the daughters of Minos, the ruthless King of Crete, where each year hostages from Athens are fed to a labyrinth that holds the hungry, monstrous Minotaur. But when Theseus, the Prince of Athens, enters the maze himself, Ariadne is determined to help him escape and put an end to her father's cruelty. It is what comes after the Minotaur's defeat that will be uncertain: Ariadne will come to realize that women have no true place of agency in the games played between gods and heroes. Saint can be heavy-handed with foreshadowing and narrative exposition, and the sisters' motivations could have been better fleshed-out in the first part of the novel. But as the story continues, the two women become more complex—and bold. They grow stubborn and dare to grasp at happiness and even independence in a patriarchal world where anything might draw the ire of the gods or goddesses above them. Fans of Madeline Miller's Circe (2018) will enjoy this faithful retelling that centers on the often-forgotten women of Greek myth. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Like Madeline Miller's Circe, Saint's debut novel offers a feminist retelling of a classic Greek myth, this one centering on the princess who helped Theseus slay the Minotaur. Here, Ariadne sees Theseus as a means of escaping her home, but she doesn't want to leave little sister Phaedra behind. Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Saint's enchanting debut retells the myth of the minotaur through the eyes of Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete. Ariadne's life has always been touched by the gods, as her mother, Pasiphae, is the daughter of Helios, god of the sun. She has also witnessed their wrath, unfairly brought down upon Pasiphae by Poseidon, the sea god, because of Minos's transgressions against him. Her punishment, to fall into obsessive love with a bull, resulted in the Minotaur, Ariadne's half-human, half-bull brother. When Theseus, prince of Athens, is sent as part of that city's annual sacrifice to the Minotaur, a smitten Ariadne helps him defeat the monster and they flee Crete together. Ariadne hoped they would bring her sister, Phaedra, with them, but fickle Theseus breaks his promise, leaving Phaedra behind and abandoning Ariadne on the island of Naxos. The island is the home of Dionysus, god of wine and pleasure, and he takes Ariadne as his wife. Phaedra, meanwhile, is reluctantly married off to Theseus in a political maneuver of her father's. As the women navigate their changing positions of power, they court disaster at the hands of both gods and men. Saint expertly highlights how often the women of this world pay the price for the actions of the men around them. Lovers of mythology should snap this up. (May) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

The most famous part of Ariadne's story, helping Theseus escape the labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur, is only the beginning of this sweeping mythological novel. Saint cleverly combines sources, many with conflicting events and time lines, into the compelling story of a young woman who falls in love, experiences betrayal, and carves a life for herself outside the traditional narratives of gods and heroes. In doing so, the author underscores the cost of these narratives, which relegate women's complex and valuable lives to background incidents in heroes' stories, including horrifying incidents of sexual violence. Saint's writing is slow, atmospheric, and character-driven, purposefully setting aside the action-packed male hero narratives of Greek mythology to work in an alternate mode. While some readers may be put off by the book's slower pace and Ariadne's fulfillment through motherhood and domesticity, others will revel in the complex psychology of the characters. Perhaps most telling is the focus on Ariadne's younger sister, Phaedra, who "wins" the perfect marriage to a hero, becomes queen of Athens, and still finds herself trapped in an endless cycle of pregnancy and depression despite her intelligence and talent for politics. VERDICT This will appeal to older teens interested retellings that give voice to women's stories; offer it alongside books by Madeline Miller, Adèle Geras, Elana K. Arnold, and Jane Yolen.—Molly Saunders, Manatee County P.L., Bradenton, FL Copyright 2021 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A feminist retelling of the Greek Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur follows Ariadne as she, defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A mesmerizing debut novel for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe. Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid's stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice every year. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne's decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind? Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, outside the traditional narratives of heroism and glory that leave no room for women"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A mesmerizing debut novel for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind? Hypnotic, propulsive, and utterly transporting, Jennifer Saint's Ariadne forges a new epic, one that puts the forgotten women of Greek mythology back at the heart of the story, as they strive for a better world.