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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Review: Elektra

Title: Elektra
Author: Jennifer Saint

Publisher: 26th April 2022 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 338 pages

Genre: historical fiction, Greek mythology, retellings

My Rating: 4.5 cups


The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods. 


The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon - her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them, and determines to win, whatever the cost. 


Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall. 


The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But, can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

My Thoughts

I read and reviewed Jennifer’s, Ariande, and loved it, so no surprises that I was eager to read her latest offering, Elektra. WOW! I loved it and then some. If Greek tragedies are your thing, you are in for a treat. 

‘…. my voice would be, at last, clear and brave. If I could speak the will of the gods and see the very fabric of fate, I could command attention and respect. With all of my heart, that was what I wanted. To be something other than myself; to speak in someone else’s words instead of my own.’

This book tells the story of three women who are each impacted by the Trojan war - Clytemnestra, Elektra, and Cassandra. If you are at all familiar with their stories, or the overall saga, you are in for a good retelling as this stays true to the original tale (think Troy: Fall of a City on Netflix) and I believe does a good job at giving a voice to these women.

‘A struggle for power was one thing - common enough, perhaps - but the history of this family I had joined was a gnarled and warped tangle, like the twisted roots of an ancient tree. Could I really believe that Agamemnon had severed the knot?’

What sets this apart from other retellings of this famous tale? The author chooses to focus on the ‘tainted’ bloodline of the cursed House of Atreus and how these three women’s fate are linked accordingly because of a curse, the dominance of powerful men and of course, the will of the Gods. I appreciated not only once again immersing myself in this famous tale but reading it afresh through three very different feminine perspectives. The characterisation is a definite highlight with all three viewpoints being clearly distinct. From all three women you get such different hopes and dreams with outlook and ambition surrounding revenge, abandonment, violence and trauma.

‘I wonder how she felt; what choice, if any, she had. My own twin sister, but I 

can’t imagine it at all. All the death and destruction that would chase them across the ocean; the years of relentless war that bought them their escape. Did she have any inkling of it? Of just how far the suffering would spread, how the tendrils of it would twist out to ensnare so many others?’

I believe Jennifer Saint has done an amazing job of interweaving, through elegant prose, the lives of these three very different women. The story is well paced and intensely heartbreaking at times. Ariande was a great debut however, Elektra I found to be next level engagement. This is a book I definitely recommend for readers who enjoy Greek tragedies through a feminist retelling. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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