Book Review: Elektra (ARC)

Expected publication: May 3rd 2022

Author: Jennifer Saint

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.

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.

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.

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?

After reading and greatly enjoyed the author’s debut novel, Ariadne, I was excited to get my hands on her newest release, Elektra. While the tales themselves may be different, I liked how the author’s writing style flowed between the two novels. I love Greek mythology and Jennifer Saint brings some familiar characters to life by telling their own tales. Elektra follows three women of the Trojan Wars, Clytemnestra, Agamemmnon’s wife and sister of Helen, her youngest daughter, Elektra, and Cassandra, the Princess of Troy with the gift of foresight and cursed by Apollo. While I have learned a little about these three characters in other works, I am not an expert and have not memorized all the details of their stories. As this is a retelling of well-known stories, there are not a lot of surprises as the reader knows many elements before beginning, but I love how Saint weaved them together to make them her own.

Agamemmnon was an interesting character as he was explored as the husband of Clytemnestra and the father of Elektra. With the sacrifice of Elektra’s sister, Iphigenia, in exchange for favorable wind to take the army to the Troy battlefront, the reader sees Clytemnestra and Elektra on opposing sides. While readers familiar with these 1000ish year old tales know these elements, it was interesting to read about Saint’s take on each character. While both women are set in their goals, it is difficult to fully align with one or the other. Both have sympathetic moments, and both have moments where it seems the reader will disagree with them. Originally, I was wondering how Cassandra’s perspective would add anything to the story considering that the mother-daughter dynamic seemed the most important; however, I enjoyed her struggle with her curse. Agamemmnon may have been the connector between the three characters, but I enjoyed how each of their stories stood on their own.

Through reading, it is apparent that the author has done her research as there are many poems and tales incorporated in this retelling. The writing itself may not be simple in nature with its prose, but it is engaging and has a great flow. There is a lot of emotion expressed in the writing where there is anger, despair, with some brief moments of happiness. It follows along with the Greek tragedy theme that most takes have while not going too far into making it peril after peril where the reader loses interest. All three women had amazing stories and I loved how Saint weaved them together. Each was distinctive yet they all flowed well together. The Trojan War played out within the story without being at the immediate forefront, which I liked as it helped this novel stand out even more with the focus remaining on the three characters. Overall, I loved this novel. It was engaging throughout with excellent prose and well-written characters. After enjoying both Ariadne and Elektra, I am very excited to see what story Jennifer Saint comes up with next!

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Flatiron Books, for a review copy of this entertaining and enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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