Author: Jennifer Saint
Narrator: Beth Eyre
Audiobook Length: 11 Hours and 9 Minutes
When a daughter is born to the King of Arcadia, she brings only disappointment.
Left exposed on a mountainside, the defenceless infant Atalanta, is left to the mercy of a passing mother bear and raised alongside the cubs under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis.
Swearing that she will prove her worth alongside the famed heroes of Greece, Atalanta leaves her forest to join Jason’s band of Argonauts. But can she carve out her own place in the legends in a world made for men?
After enjoying Ariadne and Elektra, I was very excited to try Jennifer Saint’s newest tale, Atalanta. I enjoy that she takes well-known tales of heroes and retells them from the female’s perspectives who are involved. In this one, the more famous section is the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece where Atalanta was involved. Here, Saint retells Atalanta’s side and expands on her involvement. She was born as the daughter of King of Arcadia who abandoned her in a forest as he wanted a son. The goddess Artemis raises her and eventually Atalanta becomes her champion. The story goes through her life while utilizing the known elements and then embellishing on them to make a more complete tale.
Her journey begins as a baby dumped in the forest before being “adopted” by Artemis and then moving into her adventures. I do wish that there was more background into ancient Greece where the significance of her being dumped in the first place and other smaller details. They are given but I think it is a missed opportunity to integrate some history to make it feel more well-rounded. It would also be a great learning experience for those not familiar with these tales while still telling a compelling fictional story. When Atalanta joins the Argo, it would be more convincing to go into her attempts to fit in and go into the emotional side. As-is, it does come across as some conversations were it and I would have preferred this drawn out and given more depth.
There was some disconnect in the pacing where the faster moments did not quite make up for the slower ones like in Saint’s other two novels. This story struggled a little to balance the characters with Jason’s side, along with the Argonauts, and Atalanta’s side. Also, for me, especially as a lover of romance in novels, felt there was not enough build up for the romance. There was great building on the friendship, but I felt the transition between friendship and romance was not explored enough. Greek mythology has a unique way of telling relationships between men and women and any interaction they have, so it seems this was the main thing I was missing. There were many interactions between Atalanta and various male characters, but I wanted a greater exploration into the emotional side of the events.
Overall, I enjoyed learning more about Atalanta. I was aware of her myths, but I do not recall a lot of details. I appreciate that Saint decided to tackle her story as it was an interesting one. The cool part about Saint’s writing is that each of her three novels are different from each other. While this novel may not be my favorite of the three, it may be for other readers and my favorite may not be the same for others. At the same time, her writing is consistent where there is a familiar style from one story to the next. Each novel has a nice feminist theme that is carried through, and I really cannot wait to see what story Saint tells next.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for the opportunity to read this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed are completely my own.**
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