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Clytemnestra by Constanza Casati: A Book Review

Author: Constanza Casati
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: May 2, 2023
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: For fans of Madeline Miller, a stunning debut following Clytemnestra, the most notorious villainess of the ancient world and the events that forged her into the legendary queen.

    As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best…

    You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.

    But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.

     Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods' hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.

     If power isn't given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

     A blazing novel set in the world of Ancient Greece, this is a thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of an unforgettable Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who wronged her.

My Review: Clytemnestra has a worse reputation than her sister, Helen of Troy. She was known as an unfaithful wife who murdered her husband, Agamemnon. This new retelling is very sympathetic to the ruthless queen. Clytemnestra is portrayed as a powerful queen who gets vengeance on those who have wronged her. Clytemnestra is a very sympathetic retelling to an ancient myth.

     Clytemnestra is the most likable character in the book. She is a strong warrior and a clever leader. She is also a capable ruler. However, she suffers through many hardships and has lost those dearest to her. The novel shows her as a sister, wife, and mother. I found her journey to be very fascinating as she grows from a spirited princess to a grief-stricken queen. Thus, I liked her transformation and was invested in her story.

     Overall, this novel is about sisterhood, motherhood, and revenge. Even though I liked Clytemnestra’s journey, I found it to be the worst Clytemnestra retelling that I have ever read. Aside from Clytemnestra, the other characters are flat. Some of them are unnecessary and add nothing to the story. The story also feels disorganized and has many random time jumps. The writing style was very simplistic. I also did not like how the story tried to take the fantasy elements out and made it a more realistic interpretation. There were also many questions that remained unanswered. It could have been a solid retelling but was not executed well. I did like the setting and the Spartan culture. I recommend this for fans of Greek mythology. This would appeal to fans of The Silence of the Girls, Goddess of Yesterday, and Helen of Troy! Still, I have read better retellings of Clytemnestra. I advise you to skip this and read Clytemnestra: The Mother’s Blade and Helen Had a Sister! Clytemnestra is a weak retelling of a much maligned queen.

Rating: 2 ½ out of 5 stars


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