Monday 17 April 2023


Book review: Atalanta by Jennifer Saint [blog tour]

I've been on a Greek retelling reading spree the last few years and I'm not alone! Because of the popularity of these kinds of books, more and more are published each year – and I particularly love those that delve into parts of Greek mythology that aren't as well-know as, say, the Trojan War. Madeline Miller's Circe comes to mind, as does Jennifer Saint's Ariadne. And Atalanta fits right into this list of incredible Greek heroines who finally get the chance to shine in their deserving spotlight. 

Atalanta's father was so disappointed when she was born and wasn't a boy that he left her on the side of a mountain to die. Thankfully she didn't perish. Instead, she was brought up by bears and enjoyed the protection of Artemis. Atalanta became an incredibly skilled fighter and hunter under the goddess' watchful eye – greater than any other woman, and man too. So she is an obvious choice to join Jason and his Argonauts on the quest for the Golden Fleece. 

But the perilous sea adventure isn't only filled with magical and mythical beings trying to take the Argo off course. Atalanta is the only woman on the ship and she has to prove herself time and time again, not only to those they meet on their journey but also to her fellow Argonauts. And for the first time she's left the protection and seclusion of the forest she was brought up in. Surrounded by only men, suddenly her promise to Artemis to not get married isn't as easy to keep...

Even though I've heard of Jason and the Argonauts, besides the fact that their goal was to obtain the Golden Fleece (thanks, Percy Jackson!), I didn't know a ton about this Greek myth before reading this book. I loved diving into this story more – especially from the perspective of Atalanta – and seeing all the obstacles they faced. Where with the story of Odysseus, for example, I know each of the different foes he came across on his journey, this time around every day of the quest something new and unexpected came along. 

And Atalanta was a worthy main character. She has an incredibly fascinating backstory and I thoroughly enjoyed each time she gave one of the men a run for their money. I do think the start of the novel felt a bit slow and the Argonauts' quest was over fairly soon (I would've loved more detail about each of their stops and battles), but then again, this isn't just about Jason's quest, this is Atalanta's full life recounted in one novel. It continues beyond the story of the Golden Fleece, which is when I really became invested. Talk about a gripping, and unexpected, third act!
Jennifer Saint is the queen (or should that be goddess?) of Greek retellings. While Ariadne will be hard to beat for me as my favourite novel of hers, Atalanta very much follows in similar footsteps of putting an often forgotten and ignored Greek heroine front and centre. Atalanta's story is fascinating, well-researched, and epic – everything you could possibly want from a feminist retelling. 

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint is published by Wildfire Books (part of Headline) and you can now buy a copy from your favourite local book shop!

Blog tour stops for Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

This review for Atalanta is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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