Elektra: A Novel of the House of Atreus

Cover of ELEKTRA by Jennifer Saint
Jennifer Saint
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
May 3, 2022

Hello and welcome to this week's #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a closer look at a title that makes its debut to the publishing world - and our patron's holds lists!

Jennifer Saint's novel ARIADNE was a powerful word-of-mouth hit last year - the novel from the point of view of a princess of Crete who helps hero Theseus find his way through a maze in the basement of her father's palace - was both a crowd-pleaser and a great book club pick for those looking to dig a little deeper into the character from Greek mythology. Saint is back with a similar novel, this time not only looking at characters from Greek mythology for inspiration, but characters from plays by Greek dramatists like Euripides and Aeschylus.

Even though Elektra is named as the title of the book, this novel is about three women, all connected by either blood, circumstance, or fate.

One character, Clytemnestra, is the wife of Agamemnon, the general of the Greek forces during the Trojan War. She's also the sister of Helen, who is taken by Trojan prince Paris behind the walls of Troy. She resents her husband and, ultimately, is responsible for his murder.

Another character, Cassandra, is the daughter of the king of Troy, Priam. (And brother of the troublesome Paris.) She is a priestess of the god Apollo and is given the power of accurately telling the future, however the ability has a dark twist - her gift of prophecy is cursed as no one ever believes her. After Troy falls, she is taken as a slave by Agamemnon back to Greece

The youngest daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra is Elektra. Shocked and saddened by her mother's decisions, she murders her in revenge. Why would she murder her mother when her father is such a monster, you ask? Saint asks that, too, along with a bunch of other questions, creating a multi-layered novel where each character has their own motivations and reasons, which aren't always obvious to each other. This novel is one that readers will enjoy even if they don't have a deep history of Greek mythology or familiarity with ancient dramatists - the transitions between characters is clear, the storytelling choices bold, and the interior lives of each character is well thought out and deep.

Put this one on your holds lists! Thanks for giving it a try, and if you like novel like these, ask for more at your local library.

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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