Book Review: Ariadne

By Jennifer Saint 

The story of Ariadne is told in this book by Jenifer Saint. On the island of Crete, Princess Ariadne lives with her tyrannical father, King Minos, and her monstrous bull brother, The Minotaur. She sees as she grows up in Crete how her mother endures injustices from the gods as payback for their wrath against the king and was cursed to give birth to the half-bull, half-human monster that eats human flesh. Ariadne swears never to serve as a pawn for either the gods or for men.  

Ariadne falls in love with the Greek hero Theseus when he arrives with an annual group of seven young Athenian boys and seven Athenian maidens to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. She sees a chance to stop the killing of innocent people and take charge of her own destiny. She assists Theseus in killing the Minotaur and flees, but he betrays her and abandons her on an island to die. Ariadne's tale, however, does not end here.  

You will enjoy reading this if you like the myth of the Minotaur and are curious about the princess who helped in slaying the monster. The writing is nice, but the story isn't paced well, and the title is misleading because the book isn't just about Ariadne but also about her sister Phaedra. Saint does an excellent job of capturing the beauty and vibrancy of Crete as well as Ariadne's feelings towards her half-monster brother though. The book's opening section is its strongest; after that, it becomes somewhat repetitive. Because Ariadne only ever makes one important decision for herself at the beginning of the narrative and never again, I wouldn't say the story is particularly feminist. She and Phaedra are just victims of the cruel men and gods around them.  

Overall, I wouldn't suggest this book to readers looking for a feminism-focused retelling of the women in Greek mythology. If you simply want to learn more about the myth of the Minotaur, Ariadne, and Theseus, it's a good read. 

Reviewed by Tayyeba 

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