Jenny is a great friend of mine and gave me a proof copy of her book to read. All opinions are my own.
Theseus and the Minotaur is a well-known Greek myth that many of us grew up hearing. When I was in middle school we did a play called Death to the Minotaur, and the concepts of the labyrinth and monstrous minotaur within it made big impressions on me. I’ve always remembered the name of Ariadne from the play, but little else about her as a person. She helped Theseus, but even that seemed a vague and short-lived part of the play… We knew nothing about Ariadne herself or what became of her; she was simply a footnote to the tale of Theseus and the deadly beast of the Minotaur.
However, Jennifer Saint has changed all that with her powerful and evocative debut novel, ARIADNE. I love that Ariadne’s name is in full capitals for the title of the book. Pay attention; here she is.
The prologue captured me right from the start because it’s perfectly crafted; it’s brief, yet powerfully sets the scene and pulls you into a different world. I wanted to devour the rest of the book immediately.
The start of ARIADNE describes her experiences as a child, her family members, and how her half-brother, The Minotaur, came into being. The book will reveal the details, but Ariadne’s mother paid the price for her father’s wrongdoing, and ended up giving birth to the Minotaur; the woman suffered because of the man. This becomes quite a theme within the book.
Imagine growing up in Ariadne’s circumstances and how she had to watch the effects of the Minotaur on her mother, her father, and her sister… knowing the sacrifices that were made down in the dark labyrinth beneath her feet. Hearing the noises that come from such a place.
Then comes Theseus…
I’m not going to tell you too much about what happens in the book because I want you to buy it and experience it for yourself. However, the scene where Theseus takes on the Minotaur happens very early on within ARIADNE. When I reached the end of that scene I sat and wondered… well, Jenny, what next? Surely that’s the end of the story? Wrong. There’s so much more to Ariadne’s tale, and to Phaedra’s (her sister).
When I’ve talked to people about ARIADNE, they worry that they don’t have enough knowledge about Greek mythology to understand or fully enjoy the book. Worry not, I was in the same position – everything you need to know is told within the story, and if you struggle with the pronunciation of some of the names (like me) just make up your own interpretation of them and keep reading.
There’s so much to enjoy within ARIADNE. More characters emerge within the tale, as the true character of Theseus is explored and revealed. There’s a god of wine – imagine that. You’d think that could only be a brilliant thing, however… this is the world of Greek mythology, which is a harsh place to exist, especially for women.
Jennifer Saint gives context to the characters of this well-known tale and shows that we’ve only been told one, simplified side of the myth. The perspective we’ve witnessed has been wholly male, and Jennifer finally represents the women of the myth and gives them a voice. Ariadne didn’t help Theseus, she saved his life, and risked her whole world in the process. ARIADNE finally tells her story, and that of Phaedra, her sister. It’s a beautifully written, gripping tale that will carry you on the many voyages of its characters to reveal their strengths, their flaws, and their fates.
ARIADNE is released on 29th April 2021 – preorder your copy now!
Huge congratulations to you, Jenny. ARIADNE is a truly amazing achievement.