Phaedra by Laura Shepperson

Phaedra by Laura Shepperson

Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Myth Retold

Laura Shepperson’s debut novel Phaedra (released as The Heroines in UK/AUS) is another new release in Greek myth retellings. The story follows Phaedra, who married Theseus after he slayed the Minotaur. This work re-examines the story from Phaedras point of view, and turns the story on its head. Ultimately, Phaedra, who is misunderstood, demands justice for the suffering and helplessness that is felt by not only herself, but for abused women everywhere.

It’s a very complex story (and controversial, as far as myths go). I won’t spoil the ending here for anyone who doesn’t know how the myth goes, but if you are interested search for Euripides’ Hippolytus myth summary.

A stark contrast between gender roles is explored within this work, showing how different expectations and beliefs were between men and women during this time in history.

IMHO the world-building left a lot to be desired, and I found the multiple POVs to be confusing at times. The challenging subject matter makes it an emotionally difficult read, in itself. Not hard, but uncomfortable to read, at times. And who am I to judge? They say good literature evokes feelings and makes you think critically…which this story definitely does. I do think this story brings a fresh twist to an old myth, and I am still excited to add this new story of Phaedra to my mythology collection 💙

⭐️⭐️⭐️

TW: rape, abuse, suicide

Thank you to @alcovepress @penguinrandomhouse and @laurashepperson for gifting me this ARC💕

His Hideous Heart: 13 Stories by Edgar Allan Poe Reimagined

𝕳𝖎𝖘 𝕳𝖎𝖉𝖊𝖔𝖚𝖘 𝕳𝖊𝖆𝖗𝖙 : 13 𝑜𝑓 𝐸𝑑𝑔𝑎𝑟 𝐴𝑙𝑙𝑎𝑛 𝑃𝑜𝑒’𝑠 𝑀𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑈𝑛𝑠𝑒𝑡𝑡𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑇𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑅𝑒𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑔𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑑

Kᴇɴᴅᴀʀᴇ Bʟᴀᴋᴇ • Aᴍᴀɴᴅᴀ Lᴏᴠᴇʟᴀᴄᴇ • Fʀᴀɴ Wɪʟᴅᴇ • Rɪɴ Cʜᴜᴘᴇᴄᴏ • Lᴀᴍᴀʀ Gɪʟᴇs • Sᴛᴇᴘʜᴀɴɪᴇ Kᴜᴇʜɴ • Tᴇssᴀ Gʀᴀᴛᴛᴏɴ • Tɪꜰꜰᴀɴʏ D. Jᴀᴄᴋsᴏɴ • Hɪʟʟᴀʀʏ Mᴏɴᴀʜᴀɴ • Cᴀʟᴇʙ Rᴏᴇʜʀɪɢ • Mᴀʀɪᴇᴋᴇ Nɪᴊᴋᴀᴍᴘ • Dᴀʜʟɪᴀ Aᴅʟᴇʀ

This is His Hideous Heart, a collection of short stories inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. In homage to Poe and his works, thirteen celebrated authors have come together to reimagine Poe’s most popular tales for a new generation.

Some of the most interesting stories were the ones adapted from poems—Night-Tide by Tessa Gratton (inspired by Annabel Lee) and The Raven (Remix) by amanda lovelace were two of my favorites. I also really loved The Changeling by Marieke Nijkamp and Lygia by Dahlia Adler.

I love that Poe’s original stories are included in the back for people like me who love to compare and contrast the old verses the new!

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Sense and Second-Degree Murder by Tirzah Price

The second book in the Jane Austen Murder Mystery series is as thrilling as the first, and full of twists that leave readers in suspense until the very end.

True to its name, Jane Austen’s classic Sense and Sensibility expectedly touches on the themes of good sense versus emotional sensitivity. Set in the late 1700s, Austen’s novel takes place in a world where there are limited roles and opportunities for women in society. Austen’s female characters do not inherit property and cannot have careers. Their futures and fortunes depend almost exclusively on the men they marry and they are expected to be dutiful, upstanding ladies of society. But, Austen depicts her female characters as thoughtful, clever, ambitious women. Even while living in a male-dominated world, female characters are able to exert power and agency.

In the same spirit, Sense and Second Degree Murder also focuses on themes of women’s role in society, but with a more modern twist. This series is set during the regency era, but does take creative liberties with what may or may not have been proper for young ladies of the time. Price’s versions of Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood allow her to explore tensions that wouldn’t have been polite topics of conversation in the original Jane Austen novels, updating the story for a modern audience. In this new story, we see the sisters take a stronger control over their destiny. While their fate still remains tied to the choices of others (read: men), this telling allows them more power over their situation as they take control of solving their fathers mystery, empowering them to act rather than sit by and wait.

Retellings are important. They keep us in conversation with authors of the past, they bring relevance back to stories of the past, proving that human nature is universal and unchanging. And retellings like this are especially important, because they bring modern concepts and ideas back to the story, keeping them relevant and talked about. We still feel the same feelings that humans have felt for centuries, and will continue to feel for eons. We, all of us as humans, exist and are destined to share the same thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and dreams, not only that other humans are feeling, but that humans have always felt. We are all different, but we are also all the same, and always will be. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants.

The Jane Austen Murder Mystery Series by Tirzah Price:

A Game of Retribution

Retellings of the Greek myths and legends are really popular right now, and the Hades x Persephone series is one of my favorite Persephone retellings — and there are some amazing ones out right now! (Lore Olympus, Neon Gods, Monsters & Muses, to name a few!)

With this series you get both sides of the story. I know, because I have read the Hades/Persephone books side by side, and though that are different they are still the same, and they match up perfectly. Persephone’s books are the “A Touch of…” titles, while Hades’s books are the “A Game of…” titles. It is an interesting way to present dual perspectives, and more in-depth than switching back and forth each chapter.

There are scenes between the two which are cute, because they are the same story, told slightly different from their perspectives. But each having their own book allows for a lot more depth to the story, scenes that reveal character arcs, and shows what the other does in their own life.

PersephoneHades
#1 A Touch of Darkness#1 A Game of Fate
#2 A Touch of Ruin#2 A Game of Retribution
#3 A Touch of Malice#3 A Game of Gods (expected 2023)
#4 A Touch of Chaos (expected 2023)

Persephone’s POV has the spark that made me fall in love with the series, but hearing Hades’ side paints the whole picture much clearer, and shows the ups and downs of effort and compromise in relationships. It’s sometimes easy to forget that everyone has their own struggles and are fighting their own hard battles inside. But, by seeing this relationship from both perspectives like this, we as readers can better understand the motives and reasoning behind each persons actions, and helps to remind us that we are all just trying our best with what we are given. Give the grace that you wish to be given.

As a classicist, I am a big fan of Greek myth retellings, and I am happy for every chance I get to read them. (See my reviews on Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, Great Goddesses by Nikita Gill, and I, Antigone by Carlo Gébler). But the Hades x Persephone series are the perfect books for fans of Madeline Miller and Katee Robert.

I, Antigone

As a classicist, I am a big fan of Greek myth retellings, and I am happy for every chance I get to read them. In I, Antigone, Carlo Gébler paints a beautiful picture of a world filled with Kings and Queens of the ages, and brings a new twist to one of the oldest stories in the world, the story of Thebes. If you thought you knew the whole story, think again.

Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 441 BC. Of the three Theban plays, Antigone is the third in order of the events depicted in the plays, but it is the first that was written. The play expands on the Theban legend that predates it, and I, Antigone is written in the same spirit for a modern audience.

Most modern myths have many versions and variations, and will pull from various sources like Ovid, Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles. I was interested to see which myths Carlo Gébler would include in Antigone’s world. I was excited to find the author took inspiration from various sources and included many gods and goddesses into the story, all while giving them a modern spin.

With this books we get many stories in one. Many myths make up the grander tale of the Greek king, Oedipus. Within the story of Oedipus, we also get the stories of Europa and the bull; their children Minos and Adamanthus; Cadmus’ search for his sister Europa, and his founding the founding of the great city Thebes; how Cadmus’ great-grandson Laius became king at Thebes, and how he brought a great curse upon his line.

Retellings of the Greek myths and legends are really popular right now, and I, Antigone is a great read for fans of Madeline Miller and Scarlett St. Claire.