ARC Mini Review – Elektra

Hello, everyone! Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Elektra by Jennifer Saint. I’ve been meaning to get to Ariadne, which is also by this author and has received quite a bit of praise. So, I was excited to be approved for an eARC of this novel and get my first taste of Saint’s work. I’m also a sucker for mythology retellings, especially of Greek mythology, and was super pumped to see this take on the story.

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.

Clytemnestra
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.

Cassandra
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.

Elektra
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?

***Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I love mythology re-tellings, and this one was no different. It was an interesting look at a well-known story, the Trojan War and its aftermath, through the eyes of characters that don’t always get to be in the spotlight. Three women were the central focus of this book, and all three POVs were fascinating and had their moments that had me in my feelings, which is truly an accomplishment considering I already knew everything about where the story was heading from reading and studying these myths for the last 20 years. The star of this book was Clytemnestra, despite the book being named after her daughter. Her life was absolutely tragic. All she wanted was to be the best mother, but her unfortunate circumstances and the grief and rage inspired by them destroyed everything. Her story, and the story of the House of Atreus in general, acts as a brutal warning that violence and rage begets even more violence and rage in a seemingly never-ending cycle. The saddest part was her realization that her rage accomplished nothing more than driving away the good things she still had in her life. Unfortunately, it took her too long to learn that lesson, and in acting on her rage, she doomed her children to another spin of that cycle, which left Elektra a bitter, selfish woman that I found completely unlikable. Elektra was actually my least favorite character in this entire novel, but, surprisingly and thankfully enough, her POV seemed the smallest. Even though I disliked her, I still appreciated that her character was one of the consequences for her mother’s decision to embrace her rage since it led to Elektra being raised on a combination of emotional distance, rage, and loneliness, which is definitely not a good mix for healthy personality development. Elektra’s unlikable demeanor just added to the overall tragedy of it all. Cassandra’s part of the story provided the Trojan side of the narrative, and the intersection of her story with that of the Clytemnestra was poignant and heartbreaking. All around, this tale was one of tragedy about the all-consuming love of a mother that I didn’t want to stop reading. However, the writing wasn’t what I expected, and it felt a bit dull and incredibly slow at some points. It wasn’t bad by any means or stop me from connecting with the characters, but it kept me from getting completely lost in the beauty of the writing, which is something I’ve now realized I’ve come to expect from these types of re-tellings. All in all, it is a solid re-telling with interesting perspectives and compelling POVs that I think fans of Greek mythology and other re-tellings, such as Circe, will enjoy a lot. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

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