Audiobook, Books, eBook, Fantasy, Fiction, Folklore, Historical Fiction, Retelling

Ithaca by Claire North is a feminist retelling of Greek mythology focusing on Penelope (4/5 stars)

Ithaca by Claire North
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Ithaca is a fantasy with historical fiction elements by Claire North. The ebook version is 464 pages. I did a blended read with this book by also listening to the audiobook, which clocks in at twelve and a half hours and is narrated by Catrin Walker-Booth.

It has been seventeen years since King Odysseus sailed away from the island of Ithaca with all of their men of fighting age, heading off to war with Troy. But this is not a story about men.

The women of Ithaca were left behind to pick up the pieces and run the kingdom. In the years since, Queen Penelope has been plagued by suitors vying for her hand. She knows she must be cautious, lest the isle fall into civil war. To maintain a tenuous peace, she uses her cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids to allow the kingdom to remain intact for when Odysseus returns.

I’m a big fan of feminist mythology retellings. They’re kind of my catnip, as a person who minored in Classical Mythology in college. This one is especially interesting because it is narrated by Hera, the queen of the gods and wife of Zeus. Hera is the goddess of marriage, women (especially during childbirth), and family. She has a very distinct and unique point of view, and I really enjoyed seeing this story through her eyes.

She’s definitely not the only Greek God(dess) we see in this book, as they’re all meddling creatures. We see a good deal of Athena too, and Artemis. Our main mortal character here is Penelope of course. Hera likes to hang around to see how she interacts with her suitors, her advisors, her maids, and her warriors defending Ithaca from pirates.

This book is very character-driven and thus is a bit slow-moving. I did really like the author’s prose, but I found it helpful to switch to listening to the audiobook at the 50% mark (thanks monthly Audible credit!). It appears to be the first book in a trilogy, and I’m absolutely going to pick up the next book once it’s been published.

If you were a fan of Elektra by Jennifer Saint or The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, you may like this book!

Tropes in this book include: Greek mythology retelling, feminist retelling

CW: mentions and descriptions of sexual assault, murder, death, violence, description of corpses, gore

The publisher provided a digital ARC of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

If you want to see more from me, check out my bookstagram!

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