Book Cover
Rate this book

Ratings & Reviews for


5 stars
22,523 (22%)
4 stars
44,596 (44%)
3 stars
25,771 (25%)
2 stars
5,858 (5%)
1 star
1,244 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,659 reviews
Profile Image for Brittany Smith.
248 reviews267 followers
July 15, 2021
Thank you to the publishers and Edelweiss for the ARC.

This novel is a retelling of the Theseus and the Minotaur myth from the perspective of Ariadne, princess of Crete and sister to the Minotaur, who helps Theseus conquer the labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur.

I will talk about events in the novel without spoilers aside from things that line up with the original myths and, thus, are not spoilers because you can look it up on Wikipedia or Theoi . com or if you truly want to know nothing about the events of the myth or this book, maybe skip my review.

I am a huge fan of Greek mythology and have been for years. The tale of Ariadne and Dionysus was always one of my favorites, so I leaped on this book the second I saw it, and though it started off strong, it was ultimately very disappointing to me.

I would not say this was a feminist retelling in any way, honestly, so I would warn others who might read it for such things (as it has been advertised as such) as Ariadne makes one decision in the beginning of the book and then becomes a brittle leaf in the wind, blowing which ever way at the mercy of the men around her.

The entire book felt like you were holding your breath, on the edge, waiting for something to happen, waiting for that moment to start caring for the characters or be stunned by an amazing plot point, just for none of that to occur.

There are alternate versions to the myth, and one I prefer to others, and this seems at first to follow my preferred ending, yet still ends tragically. When presented with such an option that would make an amazing novelization, Dionysus immortalizing Ariadne as he did his mother, to not use that inspiring, beautiful version seems like an immense waste to me. ESPECIALLY since this is marketed as feminist. Nothing says feminism quite like a needlessly tragic ending, am I right? (Heavy sarcasm) So of course I’m disappointed.

This retelling clearly flew through the base myth, Theseus and Ariadne fleeing Crete at 30%, Dionysus being introduced at about 40%, and so on, I had no idea how it was truly going to end and the ending that was given did not leave me feeling satisfied in the least and mostly left me wondering what even was the point of the novel other than “women suffer a lot”

Even though Ariadne does indeed become the wife of Dionysus and have children with him, the dynamic of their relationship doesn’t make any sense either. It was sweet in the beginning, but it soured due to the author’s choice of deciding to hide different aspects of Dionysus from Ariadne. Mainly just the author trying to come up with some sort of emotional conflict that didn’t need to happen, and would have been much more interesting to have the darker aspects of Dionysus shared and explored with Ariadne. Especially since classical art DEPICTS her participating in his rituals with the Maenads and Satyrs. So the characterization was dull and off-putting, which is something I never could have imagined for the god of wine, revelry, ritual madness, and religious ecstasy.

Phaedra, Ariadne’s younger sister, was also given a perspective throughout the novel and explored her life.... and you’d never guess how that ends *heavy sarcastic tone and pointed look*

The retelling of the myth fell just short of where it should have, changing the last bit of Ariadne’s “ending” with a lackluster and hopeless tragedy and no falling action aside from a very short epilogue that did nothing for me because I was furious at the chapter prior. The last bit of the myth could have been fulfilled with the epilogue so it could have ended on a much better note, but the author chose not to do it for reasons unbeknownst to me.

As other reviewers have pointed out, retellings are usually supposed to build upon the base myth and add things to better the story and fully flesh it out, not recount them step by step, which is what the author did, and it led to the story falling extremely flat and having no feeling behind it.

Another issue I had: with the timeline of other heroes, speaking of Heracles in Theseus’ past because he was Theseus’ mentor, and then later introducing Perseus, who was not described as old as far as I can remember, knowing Perseus is actually Heracles’ GREAT GRANDFATHER doesn’t make any sense. It’s Ancient Greece so I’m going to assume that Perseus should be dead if Heracles was in his prime before Theseus even met Ariadne (so probably like 15+ years in the past at that point)

Though the ending fell extremely flat to me and was ultimately disappointing, the writing itself wasn’t completely terrible, (it certainly wasn’t great, and to compare this book to Madeline Miller is hubris and punishable by the gods) and the first half as it followed the myth was alright. Ariadne’s viewpoints of how unfair it is that gods always target women for the acts of men are really the only thing that would be considered “feminist.” So that saves this book from having a one star rating, but it’s still a 1.5, and because it has been my most disappointing read of the year, and still inspires rage whenever I think about this book, I’m rounding it down to one star, as it deserves.

It’s just really a shame because as much as I dislike “and they lived happily ever after” because I don’t mind a bit of pain, I REALLY don’t like to read about all women needlessly suffering at the hands of or because of men and that being the only message I take away from this novel when it was advertised as a “brilliant feminist debut” and WHEN THERE WAS AN AMAZING ALTERNATIVE WITHIN ESTABLISHED MYTHOLOGY.

Unfortunately, this retelling was completely unimaginative and lacked any kind of vision that would do these characters justice. I would heavily warn against reading this book and any retelling the author does in the future.

The UK edition is gorgeous, but better as a decoration, and not to read. I wish I hadn’t read this book and was blissfully unaware of its terrible contents.

All I can say now is that Ariadne (and Phaedra, and Pasiphae) deserved so much better.
Profile Image for Yun.
521 reviews21.7k followers
August 21, 2022
I had thought he brought salvation with him. Instead he had traded my existing bondage for another.
I just cannot pass up a Greek mythology retelling, and the story of Ariadne is an undeniably fascinating one. Growing up in Crete as the daughter of King Minos, she sees how her mother suffers at the hands of the gods as retribution for their anger towards the king. Ariadne vows to never be a pawn for the gods or for mortal men. When she is faced with the terrible atrocities happening under King Minos, will she have the courage to do the right thing and finally accept her destiny?

I love stories about strong female characters, and immediately found Ariadne to be a captivating heroine. Her character is well fleshed out in all of its complexity, triumph, and heartbreak. She displays strength and resilience in the face of adversity, and it was fun to follow along and cheer her on. I also found her relationship with her sister Phaedra heartwarming to read.

However, I did find the pacing to be a bit uneven. This is the story of Ariadne's life instead of just one event in it, so certain parts definitely feel more cohesive and essential than others. The first 100 pages were absolutely unputdownable, with a riveting story arc that just propels the narrative forward. The next 100 pages slowed down a bit. Not much happens, and we get a lot of background stories on tangentially related mythology characters. But then it ends on a strong note, with the last 100 pages picking up the arc of another interesting storyline and taking it all the way to a satisfying close.

The struggle for females to break free from the influence and punishment of men is a familiar tale, and the infusion of Greek mythology makes it that much more exciting. I'm always thrilled to come across such a compelling debut, and I cannot wait to see what else Jennifer Saint comes up with.

See also, my thoughts on:

This was a pick for my Book of the Month box. Get your first book for $5 here.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
May 20, 2021
this book is the perfect addition to my greek mythology shelf and fits right in with ‘circe,’ ‘the silence of girls,’ and ‘a thousand ships.’

while this isnt the book i was expecting - i figured this would solely be a retelling of the minotaur, but actually follows ariadnes entire life (the minotaur is only like the first 25%) - but thats because i wasnt familiar with ariadnes story in depth. i really enjoyed getting to know more about her outside of her fathers kingdom. i found her relationship with dionysus fascinating and the alternate perspective of theseus refreshing.

the writing in this is also lovely. not quite on the level of madeline miller (an impossibly high standard, tbh), but still has moments of beauty. there are quite a few moments of characters recounting tales, which reminded me so much of traditional greek oral storytelling, so that was nice to see. i also think this story offers a great commentary on the role women play in the world of men and gods and gives ariadne (as well as her sister) a much deserved voice.

im really happy with this. it is a definite must read for fans of ‘circe’ and greek mythology retellings in general.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
September 18, 2021
“I would not let a man who knew the value of nothing make me doubt the value of myself.”

4 stars ⭐️

I’m a sucker for retellings. Particularly ones based around Greek myth.

Ariadne lives on the island of Crete with her controlling father Minos and her bull brother The Minotaur.

When the Greek hero Theseus arrives with a collection of Athenians to be sacrificed to the Minotaur Ariadne becomes infatuated. She sees an opportunity to stop the slaughter of innocents and take control of her own fate.

But everything changes when she leaves with Theseus and he betrays her by abandoning her on an island to die. But Ariadne’s story does not end here.

I loved the twist on the Greek heroes. Theseus is an asshole and I loved hating on him. I enjoyed all the different elements and characters, including Daedalus and Icarus.

It was good to see the other sides of Dionysus as well. I liked both Phaedra’s and Ariadne’s point of views.

Overall, really enjoyed this and can’t wait to read more from this author.

My wait is almost over! I asked at the library how far down the queue I am for this book.
I am next in line! Honestly I’ve been waiting so long I really I hope it lives up to the hype I’ve made up in my head 😂😂

I heard Greek mythology retelling and here I am.
Profile Image for Emily.
706 reviews2,045 followers
June 1, 2021
This book has absolutely no idea what it is trying to say or what story it is trying to tell. Ariadne, quite bizarrely, is a story titled after an extraordinarily passive woman who has minimal agency in her own life, and the book barely fills in the contours of the well-known myths. This is like reading a narrative version of the Wikipedia page for the Ariadne story, though you could probably learn more about Ariadne by just going to Wikipedia. There's a somewhat garbled thread about the misogynistic treatment of women in classical myth, but simply pointing this treatment out is not original or noteworthy, and is directly contradicted by the overall plot of the book. If you are considering reading this book because you enjoy the works of Madeline Miller, I can confirm that this book is not remotely similar. Sorry to disappoint.

This book begins with a prologue about Ariadne's father Minos brutally killing the princess Scylla, who betrays her kingdom to Minos for love. One might think that this would bode well for the story of Ariadne, who essentially betrays her own kingdom by giving Theseus the secret to the Labyrinth, as the stakes are high from the start. It does not. In this version, . One might think that Ariadne, who does nothing through the first third of the novel would be a poor candidate to rebel against a father who has shown exactly what will happen to a rebellious daughter. It happens anyway! Once Ariadne is alone on Naxos, she does even less. While she lives among the maenads of the Cult of Dionysus, she does not participate in the rites or even show a sliver of interest in what's going on around her. The stories continue to happen, life flows on, and Ariadne sits on Naxos thinking about how she does nothing. It's really unbelievable.

The characters in the book are all one-note. Theseus is fame-obsessed, Dionysus is "not like other gods" , Ariadne is a spectator, and Phaedra is "headstrong" . There is zero nuance, which is hugely disappointing given the character arcs for Theseus, Ariadne, and Phaedra, and particularly for a book that tries to talk about the inherent danger and cruelty of the gods. I thought for a bit that the story was really going to be about sisters, which would make sense given the vague feminist handwaving, but the Ariadne/Phaedra reunion is weirdly devoid of emotion and happens only to service Phaedra's plot. And that vague feminist handwaving doesn't even work on the most basic level.

I probably should have put this book down about 100 pages in, when Phaedra wants to go by Naxos on the way to Athens but has to, and I quote, "sail direct," like she is choosing an Easyjet route. The inclusion of "sail direct" really tickled me. At least the book made me laugh out loud! Alas. I have had to go back to The King Must Die to ensure I get better Theseus content.
Profile Image for Robin.
327 reviews1,825 followers
March 31, 2023
↠ 1 star

Sometimes when Brittany tells you not to read something because it ended poorly you listen. Ariadne was on my list for most anticipated of 2021 and after hearing so many rave reviews, it’s safe to say I was looking forward to reading it. Greek mythology retellings have always had a special place in my heart, and as a baseline rule, I like to give them the benefit of the doubt prior to reading them. Ariadne drew me in with its beautiful descriptive language, and the promise of a long overlooked character’s story finally being unveiled. Everyone knows the story of the labyrinth, of the minotaur trapped inside, and a young girl foolish enough to betray its secrets for love. To put it plainly, there was so much potential from the get go, but the longer the story went on, the more it seemed like this was just a reread of the original myth from Ariadne’s perspective. Not much differed from my finite knowledge of the myth to which this was based on, and what was different was just watered down or changed entirely for the wrong reasons. I was hoping the ending would give me the satisfaction I was looking for, I mean you hear “feminist retelling” and you get a little excited. However, upon reaching the end I have to say that giving this novel that description could not be more misleading, and is quite literally the source of all my disappointment. If you came for a retelling about a woman claiming her power, in a story that never initially spared her a second glance, keep moving.

Trigger warnings: blood, violence, murder, death, animal abuse, childbirth, rape (mentioned)
March 13, 2023

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

DNF @ 9%

I'm sure it's super annoying as an author writing into a genre you love and having everyone comparing your work to That One Author Who Owns The Genre and Has Made It Their Thing, but Madeline Miller does kind of have a major corner on the Greek mythology retelling market right now, and as much as I understand the hatred of such comparisons, it does feel like Saint is trying to emulate Miller's style here (and the cover sure plays into this). To her credit, her writing is beautiful and it does come across as Miller lite (no, not the beer), but the story lacks the soul and the heart that I expect from Madeline Miller's books. Her stories about Circe and Achilles both made me cry. This book just had me nodding along and going, "Well, that would be a nice quote for Pinterest." I've been reading this for the last two hours and keep getting bored, so I think I'll be calling it quits here.

2 stars
Profile Image for Prerna.
222 reviews1,427 followers
June 26, 2021
My copy of the book says "Ariadne, the brilliant feminist debut that everybody is talking about." Now bear with me here, but in my humble opinion, this is neither brilliant nor feminist. Unless you consider resorting to the false dichotomy of "all men suck, women rock" feminist. I personally don't associate this idea with feminism, because although it focuses more on women, 21st century feminism has been collective, intersectional, abolitionist and most importantly, open to all. We are trying not to alienate anybody, we do not uphold age-old stereotypes that only further expand patriarchy. Sadly, it seems like some white feminists still think the struggle is "men vs women" and not "everyone versus patriarchy, capitalism, racism, bigotry, oppression."

Granted, a lot of Greek heroes and male greek Gods did suck, but I'd argue that most Greek Gods of all genders sucked, they were all sycophants. The book also seems to emulate some advanced version of the Madonna-whore complex. Women who claimed power for themselves and exercised it, like Medea and Hera, are portrayed as 'evil', while innocent, helpless women like Ariadne and Phaedra are portrayed as 'good.' I'm not trying to say that Hera is good, I'm just saying that she isn't any worse than Zeus with whom the word 'rape' is never once associated in this book. He is portrayed as a mostly neutral God who occasionally 'defiles' women. But Hera, who only makes a brief appearance in the end in a non-speaking role, is portrayed as pure evil.

There is also no actual character development, the men get worse and the women remain helpless, clueless. Ariadne starts as out as a woman who couldn't figure out her place in the world and ends that way too. I understand that the author didn't write fanfiction and therefore couldn't alter the myth itself, but she chose to end the story on a sad, sour note. I suppose this is actually a tragedy that portrays the horrible price Ariadne and Phaedra had to pay for actions they had no part in. And although this wasn't supposed to be fanfiction, the author twists the Hippolytus-Phaedra myth wherein she writes that Phaedra never actually accused Hippolytus of rape, but that an incomplete letter she wrote just before her death was found and misinterpreted. If Jennifer Saint could claim the agency to do this, I bet she could throw in some character development. This was such a disappointing and annoying read. It's a shame, because I actually absolutely love the myth of Ariadne.
Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,203 reviews3,678 followers
January 5, 2021
For fans of Circe by Madeline Miller. For readers who wanted The Silence of the Girls to ACTUALLY center the women in Greek mythology... I have a book that should go on your TBR this spring! Ariadne is a stunning debut that recounts the story of Ariadne, not as a footnote to tales of heroic men, but rather as the heroine of her own, often tragic story.

This is a tale that deftly explores the myriad ways in which women were subject to and at the mercy of men and gods. Be they poor or rich, young or old, peasant or queen, no one is exempt and motherhood is fraught with danger. From growing up with the Minotaur for a brother and a cloud of shame over her mother (punished by the gods for her husbands hubris) to becoming the wife of Dionysus, nearly forgetting he was never really human, we follow the story of Ariadne and her sister Phaedra through a world where women bear the weight of men's missteps and they are too easily cast aside or dismissed.

Jennifer Saint brings these characters to life on the page in a way that is nuanced and heart-breaking. (Seriously, I rarely cry reading books but the ending of this one...had me in tears) It's beautifully done, thought-provoking, and touches on so many elements of female life that remain relevant today, albeit in less dramatic ways: spurned love, unfaithful spouses, domestic joy, unhappy marriages, maternal bliss, postpartum depression, fear for ones children, finding joy where you can...there is a lot that will continue to resonate.

In terms of critiques, I do have a few, although the lasting impression of the book as a whole largely outweighed any weaknesses for me, and it's possible some of this might be corrected in the final copy since I read an early version for review. It takes time to really connect with Ariadne as a character and I think the early part of the book could do a better job with that. I wanted to feel more of what she felt about Theseus meeting him for the first time. She's supposed to be infatuated, but it felt a little flat and we get more time with Theseus kind of info-dumping more Greek mythology, some of which feels slightly excessive, than we do seeing how Ariadne feels and responds. Part of it might be that there is a real lack of physicality in the descriptions of relationships, especially early in the book. Not that we necessarily need explicit descriptions of sex that take place throughout. The closed door approach can be fine, but we don't even see the thoughts and feelings that lead up to those moments, or much of feelings after the fact. It leaves the book feeling oddly austere for a story involving so much sexuality. In contrast, the descriptions of Ariadne with her children are deeply visceral in a nurturing and maternal way, and that drives a lot of the emotion leading up to the end. I would like to see some of that sort of description in her relationships with the men in her life as well.

That said, this is still an incredible book, and one that is well worth your time. It would be a great book club pick too- there's plenty of fodder for discussion. I received an advance copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Grace.
1 review1 follower
June 5, 2021
Just an appallingly written book leaning entirely on an existing wonderful story.

To compare this to Madeline Miller’s Circe or Song of Achilles is unforgivable.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
265 reviews276 followers
July 5, 2022
“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: However blameless the life we lead, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.” “It was the women, always the women, be they helpless serving girls or princesses, who paid the price.”

Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up listening to her nursemaid's stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echoes 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.

Will Ariadne's decision ensure her happy ending and what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?

Ariadne is a story of love and betrayal and the ways in which women fall victim to the egos of the men in their lives. It’s also a story of sisterhood.

Always, these myths are told of the greatness of the male hero and little of the women they trample on their way to fame. Reading this retelling from Ariadne and Phaedra’s points of view was insightful and refreshing. The sisterhood between Ariadne and Phaedra was told very well, from their childhood bond to the strife and ravages of marriage and adulthood and shared sense of being wronged by men.

The story is ladened with tragedy and also times of happiness, but there was always that overwhelming sense of foreboding. Don’t come into this story expecting gentleness. Ariadne is told with raw brutality, no holds barred.

It is richly detailed, lyrical and immersive. From the very first page, you are transported to Ancient Greece. You can smell the sea and feel the heat. The pace was even and the passage of time was well done. Ariadne is an unforgettable novel of immortal love, and the gripping intoxication of power. A feminist tale with a sense of sisterhood at the heart of it. An immersive experience with the kind of writing that gets you lost in the page. It is a truly impressive debut.

This story most definitely needed to be told and I am sincerely thankful it has been.

Highly Recommend.
Profile Image for paige.
633 reviews731 followers
May 21, 2022
"No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women's pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats."


I love this new trend of writing about the women of greek mythology. The ones we don't get to see because, as Jennifer Saint writes, "I only knew Medusa as a monster. I had not thought she had ever been anything else. The stories of Perseus did not allow for a Medusa with a story of her own." And I think my favorite part about this story is that in the end, Ariadne's understanding of Perseus is the reason she only gets half a story. The symmetry was incredible.

I couldn't give this less than five stars. It was so accurate to what I already knew of Ariadne's story while adding so many small details I never knew. It was informational and enjoyable and so, so good on audiobook. I can't wait to grab the actual book (since I only have it on my nook at the moment). It's one that I just need a hard copy of.

I think my favorite part of reading anything based off of greek mythology is that you really get to see how interpretation works. By so many different authors. So many different minds. One line of something can be taken differently because of the way it's read and the person it's read by. It's so interesting, and chaotic, and in this case, inspiring. I love the line I quoted above because it's so true. That we only see one side of a story so often that it's cool to look at the others around them to see what else was truly going on. A story can be spun from so many different things. I'm so glad I got to know Ariadne a bit better.

This felt almost non-fiction. But I think that's just another cool thing about greek mythology. It feels so real because so many people believe it's truth. Another sad, expected end to another beautiful retelling. I can't wait to find my next one.

- Paige
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
461 reviews7,371 followers
May 16, 2021
They weren't kidding when they said this one is for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe!

Ariadne is a retelling of the Theseus and the Minotaur story from Greek myth, aligning with Ariadne's perspective, one we don't see much of in the original myth. I'm a huge fan of Greek myth retellings and just knew this one would be a hit for me - I wasn't wrong.

This book is written in a really lovely, effortlessly elegant way that just seemed to flow with ease. It was steady, and really felt like an exploration of the myth when going into it. I could feel myself sinking into the words each time I opened the book, and found myself looking forward to returning.

It's not the sort of retelling that requires knowledge of the original myth beforehand - in fact, everything you might possibly need to know is handed to you. If anything, I would say that readers who are already familiar with the myths surrounding Ariadne may find a lot of the story to be one they've heard before. One thing I did note was how often the dialogue would slip into storytimes from myth - so many myths were woven in, but to a point where I kind of hoped for more, just slightly. We started off really well, with Ariadne's perspective providing more insight to situations and adding her vice very distinctly to the story...but we did lose that a touch in the middle because of the continuous recounting from other characters. That being said, I didn't dislike it. It was just something I was actively looking for when reading these myths specifically from someone else's perspective, one we haven't heard before.

That being said, this book works almost perfectly as a sister-novel to Miller's Circe. Not only do the stories of Ariadne and Circe follow similar themes, but the writing style of this book is very reminiscent of Miller's while remaining distinct enough to not feel like a copycat of any kind. I definitely think it's worth giving this one a go if Greek myth is your thing!
Profile Image for jaymiej.
168 reviews
August 3, 2023
5/ 5⭐
0/5 🌶️

Ariadne by Jenifer Saint is a Greek mythology retelling from a women's perceptive has been a tragic read. This book has touched my heart and soul. Saint’s re-telling of the classic myth follows the stories of Minos’ daughters Ariadne and Phaedra, after the Minotaur is defeated. Absolutely beautiful, raw and shocking. I'm loving the Greek Mythology fiction books from the female perspective. The way she depicts complex relationships with family, lovers and children is as rich as the wine and grapes of Naxos that she so vividly describes. The pain of centuries of women, being fueled by the hand of men was epically penned in this retelling of infamous ancient Greek tragedy. This book was often painful to read, due to the ordeals each female suffered through and all they lost as their stories progressed. I adored every aspect of this story.

P.S. I cried.


“I would not let a man who knew the value of nothing make me doubt the value of myself.”

“I would not let a man who knew the value of nothing make me doubt the value of myself.”

“No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women's pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats.”

“The price we paid for the resentment, the lust and the greed of arrogant men was our pain, shining and bright like the blade of a newly honed knife.”

“The price we paid for the resentment, the lust and the greed of arrogant men was our pain, shining and bright like the blade of a newly honed knife.”
Profile Image for Lucy.
417 reviews626 followers
May 4, 2021

”I would be Medusa... if the gods held me accountable one day for the sins of someone else, if they came for me to punish a mans actions, I would not hide away like Pasiphae. I would wear that coronet of snakes and the world would shrink for me instead.”

This was possibly my most anticipated read of 2021 and it was everything I hoped for and more. I devoured this book in a few days and dropped all my other books to focus solely on this one. I was invested in the sisters stories: both Ariadne and Phaedra, how they survived in a world where men and Gods rule.

I loved seeing their sisterhood and growing up in Crete shrouded in shame, ruled over by their tyrannical father. I also loved the exploration of the sisters individual characteristics; Ariadne as the gentler, introspective sister with bravery and cunning when deciding to help Theseus: Phaedra as the outgoing, daring and confident of the two.

As an avid reader of Greek mythology I was so curious to see which myths of Ariadne Jennifer Saint would include. I’ve been especially curious about Ariadne and have read many different versions of her story and what happens to her. I was excited to delve into this book to see which ones the author would take inspiration from.

When going into this book, I was not expecting the perspective of Phaedra, but I fully loved this too. Phaedra is the younger sister of Ariadne and her story is mostly told by Euripides in “Hippolytus” and Ovid’s “Heroides”. Phaedra is also explored in “Pandora’s Jar” by Natalie Haynes which I read earlier this month. There aren’t as many retellings of Phaedra as there are Ariadne, and I am so glad the author provides Phaedra, as well as Ariadne, with a voice and fully fleshed out characters.

I really enjoyed the exploration of Pasiphae especially with the birth of Asterion, the Minotaur. It was great to explore this motherhood and how both of the sisters saw different sides of their mother when growing up.

This book especially focused on the women in Greek mythology, and so many parallels and foreshadowing was told throughout this book; through Scylla, Medusa and Pasiphae’s stories. This book explored how both of the sisters survived in circumstances that they weren’t prepared for, how they are treated as a commodity, and punished for men’s actions. This book emphasised how women have been silenced in myths and the unfairness of women’s positions in societies, but it also highlights how these women find strength, in solitude or through power, or with other women.

This book evoked a lot of emotions. As soon as I saw Theseus enter the scene I had utter dread in my stomach as I knew what would happen. But however, this story also included the god, Dionysus, my favourite God of wine and rituals- I was so happy he was included! I Love Dionysus 🍷 🍇

Jennifer Saint writes so beautifully and the descriptions were so vivid- I could see the stunning lands of Naxos, the dark Underworld of Hades, the powers of Dionysus and feel the characters emotions.

This book reminded me of “Circe” by Madeline Miller, especially as both characters find themselves alone on an island. I’d say read this if you also loved Circe.

This book made me cry at the end but regardless, I loved this book so much! 💙💛🌿
February 1, 2022
As a lover of Greek Mythology, I thought Ariadne was such a compelling story that lives up to all the expectations of Greek tragedy but also delivers a story of hope, optimism and determination as it follows the story and intriguing lives, loves and losses of Ariadne the daughter of King Minos, her sister Phaedra, Theseus a prince of Athens and Dionysus, the god of wine.

Ariadne catches the eye of Theseus, who has been brought to Crete as a sacrifice to the beast Minotaur, Ariadne’s brother, who is destined to live out his days in the labyrinth created under the walls of the Palace. Knowing the inescapable penalty and order of death, the two sisters plot Theseus’ escape which puts them perilously in danger not just of their brother but having defied the rules of the gods, the laws of the land and protocol.

The plot unfolds with Ariadne choosing the man of her dreams over her family and becomes a condemned exile in Naxos. However, despite her sacrifice Ariadne finds her life dramatically reversed when she awakens to the knowledge that she has been abandoned by Theseus who then marries Phaedra years later. Alone in Nexus, Ariadne learns to live of the land as nature becomes her only friend.

The story continues to follow the separate lives of the two sisters until they meet again years later when it is apparent that both women bear the scars of sorrow, love, betrayal and now deep seeded suspicion of each other as the events that shaped them now threatens to pull them apart. When you read Greek Mythology, you know tragedy is just lurking around the corner and this book is no different.

A beautifully written story with deeply drawn characters all shaped by the past, with vengeance in their mind and told in a narrative that is unpredictable in its reveal, beautiful in its story telling and vivid in its imagination. I just loved this story.

Highly recommended for lovers of Greek Mythology and anyone that fancies something different that is well plotted and expertly written.
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
625 reviews2,019 followers
March 4, 2022
when they say: “what do we say to the god of death?”
we say:

“I would not let a man who knew the value of nothing, make me doubt the value of myself.”

I am this close to having that quote tattooed on my forehead. (definitely read the content warnings at the bottom for this book though). Some characters make some questionable choices but I understand that these were the grecian times…

↣ This is a quick but emotional read that spans through Adriane’s whole life. It deals with motherhood and the complications of human relationships/feelings while making you feel like you are living in the Greek myths themselves. And I don’t care what anyone says, I liked the ending. No need for any greek myths research (don't do it!!) just take what you know and read. ↢

P.S. I cried.

— 4.0 —
content warnings// Alcohol, Animal death, Assault, Attempted murder, Bestiality, Blood, Bones, Child death, Childbirth, Cult, Death, Gore, Miscarriage (past), Pregnancy, Rape, Sexism, Starvation, Suicide, War
Profile Image for Gillian.
144 reviews200 followers
June 17, 2022
"No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women's pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats."

Ariadne, the Princess of Crete has loved to dance ever since she was young. She enjoys listening to the stories of heroes and gods that her nursemaids tell her about. But every year the Minotaur, who is trapped in the Labyrinth, requires a blood sacrifice. Then Theseus, the Prince of Athens comes to slay the Minotaur and she sees her chance to escape. Ariadne decides to help Theseus kill the Minotaur but her choice comes at a heavy cost. Will her decision end happily? What will happen to her sister Phaedra who doesn't escape with her?

This was a great retelling about loss, love, sacrifice, power and greed. The beginning started off a little slow, but soon after I was transported into an intriguing world of gods and heroes. I loved Ariadne, she is brave, optimistic, kind, and loving. I also liked Phaedra, she is stubborn, brave, clever, and cunning. I liked that the characters are relatable they each go through challenges and hardships and find different ways of coping. The character development was very good, there were so many sides to the characters especially Dionysus, Theseus and Phaedra. The writing and storytelling in this book is excellent. I really appreciated that the author wrote the story from Ariadne and Phaedra's perspective, it was refreshing. It showed me how much a story can change depending on who tells it. The ending was sad and heartbreaking. This book will stay with me for a while.
Profile Image for Boy Blue.
463 reviews72 followers
May 28, 2021
"It was the woman, always the women, be they helpless serving girls or princesses, who paid the price. Cursed to roam the land without refuge, transformed into a shambling bear or lowing cow, or burned to ashes by the vengeful white armed goddess."

There's been a spate of these Greek myth re-tellings in honeyed modern prose and I have to say I'm a sucker for them. 

Unfortunately, this is probably the weakest one I've come across. 

Jennifer Saint attacks the Theseus myth from Ariadne's perspective while also giving her sister Phaedra some air time and she does a good job of the telling. But I found the characterisation of Ariadne weak and uninspiring, and the characterisation of Phaedra strong until a bizarre twist on the original myth undermines all the good work from the beginning.

Ariadne makes one affirmative decision to help Theseus at the start of the story and then is just blown in the wind for the rest of the book. Even when she does stand up to others it amounts to nothing more than her own crippling self-doubt. Now it's true that Saint must follow quite closely the original source material but the internal life of Ariadne is all her own and that is unfortunately the weakest part of the story.

Phaedra at least develops some backbone and ability to control the events around her but she is undone by the deeds of others. Oddly, Saint chooses not to address the normal telling of the myth where Phaedra is collateral for Hippolytus' insult of Aphrodite, another chance to show how women wear the consequences of the god's and men's selfish actions. Instead we get Phaedra dragged into some sort of strange teenage madness and then committing suicide when her love is spurned. I found this going against the grain of Phaedra's character and all that Saint had worked for. 

This is a Phaedra quote:

"As if we hadn't learned from our shattered mother and her monstrous spawn that all a woman can do in this world is take what she wants from it and crush those who would stand in her way before they squash her down to nothing."

This is the ruthless Phaedra we expect, this is the Phaedra of the original myth. Instead we get someone who loses her marbles after being spurned by her stepson and rapidly decides suicide is the only way out. In the original myth she falsely accuses Hippolytus of rape and then Theseus kills him to defend her honour. I can see why Saint rewrote this but unfortunately it betrays the headstrong and willful Phaedra that has fought for every inch in the previous 300 pages.

The exploration of the darker side of the Dionysian cult was quite good but I felt the ending was incredibly rushed and the chance to show Perseus as a completely different kind of hero was lost. Because Saint did a great job of characterising the male villains. We'd had the cruel ruler Minos, the ladies man and fame hound Theseus, then the immortal reveller Dionysus, followed by the austere horse lover Hippolytus (less a villain, more a simpleton), it was a chance for us to finally get a middle of the road hero who was strong but also a good ruler. I know Saint tried to imply that Perseus and Ariadne unravelled all of that with a single glance but I don't think it worked. I also think the handling of the final showdown was poor. Dionysus is supposed to be welcomed to the city after the death of Ariadne through a deal brokered by Hermes. I feel like that would have been a strong point to make again about how women are the collateral damage in so many of these Greek myths but Saint didn't seem to want to take that route. 

I also felt that Hera's presence in the novel was in some ways a missed opportunity. She's always there as Araidne's enemy by proxy but we never really explore how the white-armed goddess (not the greatest of epithets) of marriage and birth, the protector of women, and the queen of all gods could have it in for these poor women, exploited by her King of the Gods husband, her Olympian brothers and their children. Instead as Ariadne points out.

"It was the woman, always the women, be they helpless serving girls or princesses, who paid the price. Cursed to roam the land without refuge, transformed into a shambling bear or lowing cow, or burned to ashes by the vengeful white armed goddess."

It's moments like these that remind me of the missed opportunity to really give a nuanced feminist slant to these myths. Saint takes the easy wins but seems incapable of stringing them all together into a grand theme or message.

In a way it's unfair to compare this to Circe because Miller had so much more leeway, given there wasn't a well beaten path she had to follow. Saint is constrained by the very well-known exploits of Theseus and this restricts her a little bit in the action of the story. But where Circe is an uplifting tale of how a woman can fight the odds stacked against her and even best the Gods at times, Ariadne is almost the opposite, a despairing tale of the ultimate helplessness of women. Such a strange message.

On a side note, Pasiphae, Ariadne's mum is actually the sister of Circe, said to have considerable witch like abilities too. I'm surprised that Saint didn't explore that more. It would have been quite believable that Ariadne had been taught some of these techniques. Equally, the dancing that Ariadne does at the beginning of the novel just disappears, it seemed like such a useful tool to be used with Dionysus later on. Many missed opportunities.

I'll leave you with another glowing quote that showed the unfulfilled potential of the story.

"The price we paid for the resentment, the lust and the greed of arrogant men was our pain, shining and bright like the blade of a newly honed knife."
Profile Image for  Teodora .
329 reviews1,780 followers
September 12, 2023
4.5/5 ⭐

Initially, I wanted to give this a 4.25 ⭐ rating and I had to really convince myself to analyse the situation again.
I'm gonna tell you why it's always so complicated for me to rate Greek mythology retellings.

I know it is not fair to do this by any means. And yet I do it. Every. Damn. Time.
I have a Greek mythology retelling Etalon book that's one of my all-time comfort reads simply because I discovered it at a time when I needed myths and legends and fantasy and magic in my life in order to survive the day. And that's Circe by Madeline Miller. At first, I've been very strict with my rating, even though I loved it. But after a second read, I've decided that yes, this is one of my all-time favourites and yes, it deserves a 5-star rating.
But...even though I think Ariadne didn't have the same impact on me Circe had...I still enjoyed it so much. It's been beautiful overall and, after careful consideration, it also deserved an almost 5-star rating. Which translates into a 5-star rating here, on Goodreads!

The atmosphere of the book was beautiful and I'll give it some extra points because even though it had all the rights to be a heavy one, it wasn't. Everything felt natural, very Greek if you want, and the story fell nicely into a fluid pace.
It was extremely easy to read, it's fast-paced but in a logical, non-charged way.

Some of the characters were portrayed in the typical mythological manner, assholes and douchebags and oh-look-at-me-I-am-a-big-bad-god-I-can-do-whatever-I-please kind of situation, but that was expected. Hell, it's even encouraged, because in this way we can all agree to hate the same characters over and over again. And let's face it, hate unites us <3

Even so, I loved the way the two sisters, Ariadne and Phaedra, Cretean Princesses, were portrayed to be the opposite of each other in a beautiful way that united them as sisters.

Even though they parted ways rather abruptly, the two sisters never stopped caring and looking for each other. You can witness the way their lives advance as they grow older, each on her own path, but forever thinking of each other.

I think this was a book about sisterhood, love, affection and the way we can grow away from our siblings but can't really grow apart from them.
It's a beautiful story really and I encourage everyone to try and read it. Who knows, you might find it beautiful and might like it forever!
Profile Image for Laura Thalassa.
Author 37 books17.5k followers
June 2, 2022
So, so good. If you love Madeline Miller’s books, you’ll love this!
February 7, 2022
Jennifer Saint’s beautiful debut is the reimagining of the Greek mythological story of Ariadne, Princess of Crete, daughter of King Minos and his queen Pasiphae. As a young girl, she is fond of dance, loves her younger sister Phaedra and even helps to take care of her brother Asterion (the Minotaur) when he was a baby, but unable to bear his bestiality as he grows. She grows up listening to her nursemaid’s stories about the gods, goddesses and mortal heroes whose lives have become legends. She is particularly moved by the story of Perseus and Medusa and the story behind how Medusa became a Gorgon. She is witness to her mother’s suffering brought upon by the birth of the Minotaur conceived as an act of revenge exacted by the gods against her father. She ponders over her own fate in a world where gods and men rule and women have no say in the decisions crucial to their lives and are but pawns in the hands of the men who control their fate.

“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: However blameless the life we lead, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”

She is appalled with the cruelty her father metes out towards the Athenians in demanding that Athens send across fourteen young men and women to be sacrificed to the Minotaur every year, an act of vengeance in retaliation for the death of his son. After, Ariadne and her younger sister Phaedra help young prince Theseus, who is masquerading as one of the prisoners, to navigate through the labyrinth and slay the Minotaur she escapes with him in hopes of a better life ahead and to escape the wrath of her father.

Ariadne is abandoned by Theseus at the island of Naxos only to become the wife of Dionysus and later Phaedra is betrothed to Theseus, as an act of goodwill between Crete and Athens, a union orchestrated by their brother and reigning ruler of Crete Deucalion. As the story progresses we follow Ariadne and Phaedra’s stories as they navigate their roles as sisters, queens, wives, and mothers. The narrative is mostly controlled by Ariadne but we also hear get to hear Phaedra's POV. The author deftly incorporates the stories of Medusa, the labors of Theseus, King Minos, and Hippolytus as they appear in Ariadne’s or Phaedra’s narrative. The author is brilliant in her portrayal of the resilience of these two women in the face of their many trials and tribulations. Though we are treated to the stories about the powers and accomplishments of the glorified gods and heroes of the myths, the author also sheds a light on the many flaws and not-so-heroic characteristics of these men - their vanity, ruthlessness, need for adulation and disregard for the women in their lives and their justification for the same.

While reading Ariadne’s story I could not help being reminded of the old phrase “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman.” But is it necessary that these strong women be forgotten or relegated to the background to glorify a man’s accomplishments while their own feats of bravery and resilience remain unheard and unsung? Jennifer Saint’s Ariadne is beautifully written, engaging, poignant and heartbreaking. Though the pace of the narrative tends to fluctuate, the author does a commendable job telling the stories of two women whose contributions have been relegated to the background to glorify the men in the myths. The author gives both Ariadne and Phaedra a voice to tell their stories and these are stories that are definitely worthy of being heard.

“I float in the inky blackness. A tiny dot of light from where you stand, but bright as a flame. I flare into life as Helios leads his chariot down below the horizon, the glimmering jewel in the center of the crown. My thoughts are slow and ponderous now, rumbling in the deep heart of eternity, but I see the whole of life beneath me.”

As a debut novel, this is beyond impressive. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more of Jennifer Saint’s work in the future.
Profile Image for Annette.
798 reviews382 followers
May 2, 2022
Ariadne, Princess of Crete, daughter of King Minos, grows up listening to stories of gods, goddesses, and mortal heroes. She witnesses gods and men having the upper hand, and women being just a tool. She sees her mother’s suffering from the hands of gods, and vows to have a different fate. But will she have the strength to forge a different path for herself?

In a male dominated world, there are also strong female characters. And that voice is given to Ariadne and her sister Phaedra in this story.

Ariadne is a captivating character, going through triumph and heartbreak. This gorgeous reimagining of the Greek mythology is very ambitious with some details that make the pace extremely slow. Due to complexity of Greek mythology, I personally prefer a simplified version over the very complex one.
Profile Image for Sara Bow.
235 reviews1,032 followers
January 13, 2022
Mein erstes Jahreshighlight für 2022 😍 Wow einfach perfekt 🙏🏼 kann ich auch besonders Lesern empfehlen, die frisch in die griechische Mythologie einsteigen wollen 😎
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
641 reviews633 followers
June 18, 2022
3.5/5 stars

You see, I’m a simple girl; I see a Greek myth retelling, I click add to TBR...

Edit 18-12-2020: I'm an even simpler girl, I get approved for ARC: I do a little happy dance in my livingroom. Can't wait to get started in this one.

Review 27-2-2021

With Ariadne, Jennifer Saint gives voice to the titular princess of Crete, known mostly as a side character in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, placing her at the centre of her own story for once. The concept has been trialled and tested in Circe, The Silence of the Girls and A Thousand Ships, but Ariadne’s story is one that lends itself perfectly to the same treatment, as even in her original story she’s a female character with a lot of agency. As the brains behind Theseus heroic rescue operation, Ariadne dares to spin the threads of her own faith and stand strong and tall in a world ruled by man, Gods and monsters.

I didn’t immediately fall in love with this novel the way I wanted to. We start with a lot of setting up the scene, and for someone who’s already very familiar with original myth, it all felt a bit redundant and info-dumpy. During this same set up, there was some fairly heavy handed priming towards the clear feminist message that the book carries throughout, and I honestly was afraid that it would take too much of an aggressive approach to this.
However, once the story got going, my hesitation and reserves went out the window. With stunning prose, Saint brings these characters (male, female, gods and beasts) to life in a way that I’ve only ever seen done in Circe. Not only Ariadne, but her sister Phaedra and many other forgotten women from these myths are brought to life in nuanced, complex and emotionally profound ways that will hit home to many of us, even centuries later.

If, like me, you loved Circe and haven’t had quite enough of this style of myth-retelling that focusses more on character than story: this is one you can’t miss. It is “the next Circe”, but it’s also entirely its own. It’s contemporary, but also timeless. It’s a tragedy, but an absolutely joyous experience. Highly recommend.

Many thanks to Wildfire Publishing for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 13,659 reviews