Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.
“She holds her hands up as if in prayer, steam evaporating from her skin. The water laps at her neck as she lies back into its warmth. Laughter and female voices surround her, a confusion of sound echoing off the stone. She filters it out, focusing on her fingers turning them, watching the water drip down, the steam rise. They could be anybody’s hands, she thinks, they could belong to anybody. But they belong to Felix.”
Today’s first lines are taken from The Wolf’s Den by Elodie Harper, the stunning debut that was published yesterday.
Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…
Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For now her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.
But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with the Wolf Den’s other women, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?
Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels reimagining the lives of women who have long been overlooked. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller’s Circe.
This is one of my most anticipated reads this year and I’m so excited to read it, particularly after attending last night’s Zoom event ‘Myths and Legends’ with the author. This book is also our first pick for the SquadPod Book Club, which starts next month. I can’t wait to finally read it alongside fellow book lovers. Click on the social media links below for more information and to join in.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Wildfire Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
“I am Ariadne, Princess of Crete, though my story takes us a long way from the rocky shores of my home.”
Ariadne is quite simply a masterpiece. Lush and evocative, it is a rich tapestry that brings to life many of the famous Greek myths through a new lens; telling them from the perspective of the women. Narrated by Ariadne and her sister, Phaedra, we follow the sisters from their childhood days as Princesses of Crete, a time of innocence when they acquiesce to the life and duties expected of them, and watch their metamorphosis as their naivete evaporates and they grow into tenacious, feisty and formidable women.
I knew very little about Greek mythology and recognised snippets of the myths retold in this book but I had never heard the story of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. I was hooked; totally obsessed and savouring every word as I luxuriated in this book. Illuminating, captivating and educational, this was a revelatory experience for me and left me desperate to learn more about the subject.
“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”
A commentary on womanhood, female agency and what it is like to live in a man’s world, the author gives a voice to the forgotten women who were merely pawns. These women were forced to endure pain and punishment for the whims of men and gods, something Ariadne learns from a young age. The author explores myths such as Medusa and the Minotaur to show how it is the women who are punished by the gods, not the wrongdoer. The rage that burns in the women is anger I recognise at the injustice of female punishment for a man’s crimes. It feels very timely, especially with the ongoing discussions surrounding the #metoo movement and our culture of victim blaming.
“No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women’s pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats.”
An accomplished and spectacular debut from an exciting new talent, this book is exquisitely and meticulously written. The author vividly paints the world of gods and mortals as she sweeps you away to the golden shores of Naxos and Crete. The depth of her research is palpable and makes it all feel unquestioningly real as we are immersed in this mesmerising world.
Luminous, atmospheric, breathtaking and unforgettable, when I finished this book I was lost for words and felt bereft at leaving the characters behind. A truly phenomenal story that everyone needs to read, even if you’ve never been interested in Greek mythology before. READ IT NOW!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Wildfire for my gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.