Published May 4, 2021 by Flatiron Books
This post contains affiliate links. We earn a small commission if you purchase the book through this link.
“My story would not be one of death and suffering and sacrifice, I would take my place in the songs that would be sung about Theseus; the princess who saved him and ended the monstrosity that blighted Crete”
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
A truly spellbinding, epic story taking readers on an unforgettable journey. Perfect for fans of Circe, A Thousand Ships and The Silence of the Girls.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that I HATED mythology in school. And hated doesn’t seem to be a strong enough word. Ugh, it was the thorn in my side in English class and I’ve avoided it like the plague since then (Can we say plague these days? Too soon?) I chose to read this novel because so many people love mythology and the description intrigued me. I’m definitely glad I stepped out of my comfort zone with Ariadne. First, a content warning for violence, suicide, mental illness, and generally women being treated terribly by men. Despite the heaviness, I thought this was extremely well written and unique picture of the women behind the men, who are so often neglected in literature. Ariadne is a Book of the Month pick for May so expect lots of buzz around this release. 4 crowns, for the Queens.
Jennifer Saint on her inspiration for the novel:
The inspiration for Ariadne first sparked when I was at university and studied the Roman poet Ovid for the first time. When I read the Heroides, a collection of letters written by the women of myth to the men who had wronged them in various ways, I was captivated by seeing these familiar stories from a different perspective. Ariadne writes a powerful letter to Theseus after she has given him the clue to lead him safely from the Labyrinth, lair of the Minotaur, betraying her father and kingdom to do so. Her younger sister Phaedra writes a letter of her own, full of clever rhetoric and persuasion and we see that they are intelligent and passionate women trying to carve out their own destiny in a world where the odds are stacked against them. Years later, I would read my children the Greek myths I had always loved and I was reminded of Ovid when I came to the story of the Minotaur in which Ariadne’s crucial role was reduced to a couple of sentences in the background of Theseus’ legend. I felt that Ariadne deserved her own voice and I wanted to put her in the spotlight where she belongs. Although Phaedra had her own individual story, I also wanted to explore the relationship between the sisters and how growing up in the shadow of the Minotaur shaped their experiences. I felt that the myths I had encountered about Ariadne and Phaedra were focused on the men in their lives and I wanted to make their sisterhood central in my book. The richness and complexity of female relationships, especially that of sisters, is so interesting and the two sisters of the Minotaur, whose fates were so devastatingly interlinked, offered such a compelling story that I was really excited by the idea of telling it.
Due to a lifelong fascination with Ancient Greek mythology, Jennifer Saint read Classical Studies at King’s College, London. She spent the next thirteen years as an English teacher, sharing a love of literature and creative writing with her students. ARIADNE is her first novel and she is working on another retelling of ancient myth for her second.