Reviews

Greek Mythology Adaptations That I Have Recently Loved

I recently read two amazing books that were inspired by Greek mythology. Since there was some overlap between these two myths, I wanted to review them in the same post. It only felt right.

Each of these books were 5 star reads for me, I absolutely adored them. I loved them for some of the same reasons, the main reason being that these books both covered women who have traditionally been forgotten in Greek mythology and have stood in the shadows of others (Theseus, Perseus, Poseidon etc.). Medusa and Ariadne finally have starring roles in their own stories and this was something that excited me!

Exiled to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charmed, beautiful boy called Perseus arrives on the island, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love, betrayal . and destiny itself.

Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation.

Medusa is a myth that I’ve been familiar with for such a long time and it’s always intrigued me. I know how she ended up with snakes for hair and I knew of her demise but the middle…I had no knowledge of what happened between those periods. This book helped to fill in the blanks and it felt like a lovely homage to this tragic tale.

The story started with Medusa already banished. I liked this because it allowed Medusa to be the star of their own story. The tale of why Medusa was cursed has been told so many times that I didn’t miss it and was happy to start the story four years later with her having built a new life with her sisters.

Medusa was so lonely and wary of kindness. I really enjoyed her budding friendship with Perseus but knowing that it couldn’t end well, this really enhanced the feeling of foreboding!

I really enjoyed this adaptation and the voice given to Medusa. The illustrations were just gorgeous. This was such a joy to read and I was already a huge Jessie Burton fan and that remains the case.

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, the 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?

This was another story that I kind of knew but I only knew about Ariadne as a side character in the story of Theseus. I hated Theseus even before reading this adaptation.

I could totally understand why Ariadne ended up being betrayed by Theseus after betraying her father. He was so charming and I would have fallen for his charm too. My heart broke for her when she was on that island.

I enjoyed learning about Ariadne and her love for her mother and siblings. I had only known her as a tragic character but this book let me get to know the woman behind the defeat of the Minotaur.

There were four parts to this story: Theseus and the Minotaur, Ariadne and Phaedra after the fall of Crete, the sisters reunited, and the death of Ariadne. Elements of each of these parts were familiar to me but from the male perspective of Theseus, Perseus, Dionysus etc.

Didn’t want this book to end!

I am a huge fan of Greek mythology. As a child, my sister and I used to read the leather bound Greek mythology tomes that my mother had picked up. The stories are so familiar to be and I’m always on the hunt for a new adaptation to enjoy. I especially love stories that give me a story I’ve not experienced before. Each of these stories focused on how women were punished for the actions of men which was a really fascinating angle for the books to take- they weren’t wrong.

I am familiar with a lot of Greek mythology but I do think that a vague knowledge of the backstories of Medusa and Ariadne would be an advantage when reading these. However don’t let that stop you, Google will be your friend but be warned…you may fall in love with Greek mythology as it’s so rich and full.

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