One of my most anticipated releases for this year was Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, and I'm going to be real honest with you, when I was asked to be a part of the blog tour for it, I went full on Elaine Benes level excited. So a massive thank you to Flatiron Books for having me!
|Pub Date: 5-4-21|
Adult - Fantasy
Ariadne and her sister Phaedra are Princesses of Crete and have spent their lives living with monsters. Their father, King Minos, is cruel and feared throughout the lands, but it's nothing compared to the beast that lurks just below their feet. In a labyrinth far below the ground, prowls the Minotaur-- Ariadne's brother who has spent years locked up for being born half man-half bull. Minos uses the Minotaur's bloodlust as a means of getting back at the people of Athens for killing another of his sons by having them send a ship of sacrifices every year. Ariadne has never taken part in the savagery, but everything changes when she meets Theseus, the Prince of Athens and the beast's newest sacrifice.
Ariadne is immediately taken by Theseus and is willing to do whatever it takes to help him kill the Minotaur, even if that means betraying her family and people. In exchange for her help, Theseus promises that he will take her back to Athens with him where they'll be wed. During their escape from Crete, they stop at an island for shelter but Ariadne wakes the next morning to find she's been abandoned. Stuck on a remote island with barely any food or water, Ariadne resigns herself to her fate but is saved and taken in by the god, Dionysus. As the pair grow closer, Ariadne can't help but wonder: is she finally getting the happy ending that was promised or will she just be a pawn in another man's quest for power?
I have one word for this debut novel and that is stunning. Saint's writing is beautiful and captivating. She expertly weaves together this tapestry combining family, duty, love, betrayal, and reclaiming a woman's worth. Often in mythology, women are the silent victims always having to pay for the sins of the men around them, and Saint gives these women a voice and an outlet for their stories to be told. I loved how you got perspectives from both Ariadne and her sister Phaedra because they were both betrayed in different ways by the same man, and you can see how that shaped them into the women they became. They both show how resilient women can be. There are so many little nuances that Saint embeds throughout that just really made the story come alive. My only slight critique is that there were moments I wish were fleshed out a little more, such as the infatuation between Ariadne and Theseus, just so the full impact could be felt. Other than that, I thought this was heartbreaking in the best possible way.