Hello, everyone! Today I’ve got two mini reviews. The first is a review of Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews. I’ve had this one on my shelf since last year, and I was happy to finally get to it.
Sparta forged her into a deadly weapon. Now the gods need her to save the world!
Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands—upends the life she’s worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus, and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods’ waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother’s life will be forfeit.
Guided by Artemis’s twin—the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo—Daphne’s journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pit her against the gods themselves.
A reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, Daughter of Sparta, by debut author Claire M. Andrews turns the traditionally male-dominated mythology we know into a heart-pounding and empowering female-led adventure.
This was a very unique retelling of several classic myths that centered the exploits of Daphne as the main protagonist. She was enlisted by the gods to assist in finding stolen items crucial to the power of Olympus and its residents. Apollo joins her on the journey to save Olympus, and they have a myriad of adventures that take them from Crete to the depths of Tartarus. I liked both of these characters a lot. Daphne was determined to be a great warrior despite everyone discounting her for being a girl, and Apollo was haunted by his past mistakes and hiding behind a mask of glib cockiness. Their relationship was my favorite thing about the book, and their banter was fun to read. Unfortunately, the writing was lacking and seemed very unpolished. Some of the transitions between scenes/chapters left me scratching my head wondering if I’d missed something. I also found all the secret-keeping really annoying, and the way the relationship between Daphne and Apollo left off at the end was incredibly unsatisfying and felt like it yanked away much of the character progression. It was also a bit weird that Daphne worked so hard to save the existing social order of the dominance of the gods when much of the rest of the book was inherently feminist in its approach to the story. Overall, there were some fun moments and clever re-imaginings of the source material, but the lackluster writing and annoying ending left me wanting more. Therefore, I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.
My second review of the day is about Blood of Troy by Claire M. Andrews, which is the recently published sequel to Daughter of Sparta.
The Sparta you know will be gone forever on the bloody fields of Troy.
A year after Daphne saved the powers of Olympus by defeating Nyx, the Goddess of Darkness, she’s haunted by still-looming threats, her complicated feelings for the god Apollo, and the promise she made to the Olympian gods that she would help them again when they called upon her. When their command comes, it is deceptively simple: secure herself a spot as one of Queen Helen’s guards.
A war is coming, and all of Sparta must be prepared.
In the midst of a treaty summit among the monarchs of Greece, Daphne and Helen uncover a plot of betrayal—and soon, a battle begins. As the kingdoms of Greece clash on the shores of Troy and the gods choose sides, Daphne must use her wits, her training, and her precarious relationship with Apollo to find a way to keep her queen safe, stop the war, and uncover the true reason the gods led her to Troy in this thrilling sequel to Daughter of Sparta.
I’m honestly at a loss for words in regards to how disappointed I was by this book, which is weird because I went in with super low expectations after not really loving the first one. I think that it comes from the fact that this book did so many things much better… until it didn’t. The writing significantly improved in this book compared to the first one, and the pacing felt much more deliberate and less frantic. Many of the secondary characters got more time to shine, especially Helen, and I enjoyed many of this author’s unique twists on the Trojan War and the Titanomachy. The focus on the politics of Olympus and the machinations instigating the Trojan War was probably my favorite thing about the book, and I loved that it took the time to give a closer look at the culture and politics of Sparta and Troy. Daphne’s journey navigating both the Olympian and human squabbles was also interesting, and I appreciated the depiction of her PTSD and the real impacts the events of the previous book had on her psyche. My favorite thing from the first book was missing, though. Apollo had a much smaller presence in this story, and his relationship with Daphne was insufferable. I missed the easy banter between them a lot. So, why was I so disappointed in this book? Put simply, the ending. It felt like a rushed mess. There were so many ‘shocking reveals’ it made my head spin, and there are some things I still don’t understand because the deliberate nature of the rest of the book was thrown out the window at the end. I’m honestly not even sure if all the things that happened in the end make any sense at all, but I’m at the point of not caring. Needless to say, I won’t be picking up the third book despite enjoying most of the book quite a bit. I thought this was going to be a solid 4 star read for most of my time reading it, but the mess of an ending drops it down to 3 stars.