Ariadne by: Jennifer Saint
Published on: May 4, 2021
“I am Ariadne, princess of Crete, though my story takes us a long way from the rocky shores of my home.”
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?
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.
I cannot help but feel for Ariadne. Daughter to King Midas, a contemptable human who enjoys human sacrifice, and Pasiphae, a woman who never recovered from a curse placed upon her by Poseidon. As the daughter of a powerful man, she has few options available to her. Her only solace is her younger sister Phaedra. But when the day comes that Ariadne and Phaedra find a way to escape, this too comes with lies and abandonment.
While I empathize with Ariadne and applaud her for the courageous decisions she did make, she could also be frustrating. Far too often she was content in her own naivety and seemed afraid to face unpleasant truths. An example, is in her relationship with her sister whom she had been parted from. Why didn’t she visit her sister? Why didn’t she ask who her sister had married? Wasn’t she curious, even a little? As much as she endured or had seen, she should have known to be more actively engaged in her own life. After all, it is her life and if she doesn’t engage who else will?
Ariadne tells not only the life story of its heroine, but explores the darker sides of the gods. Their thirst for revenge, their need for adoration. Their hubris. Little thought or care is given to how their choices and curses affect others. Women get the brunt of their wrath, often the object of displaced anger. Instead of inflicting their rage and disdain on the one who actually insulted them, the gods instead inflict the pain and suffering onto those within their circle.
While the story was well written, it was also a little depressing. There is a little bit of hopefulness in the Epilogue, but not enough to overcome the entirety of the story that I had just finished reading. I both listened to this on audio and read the book. Typically, I love audio books more, but not this one and I do not recommend it. The voice and emotions portrayed felt wrong. Every time I began the audio I couldn’t wait for the story to end. Picking up the book instead, breathed new life into the story for me.