Ithaca by Claire North

Penelope has been waiting for over 17 years for the return of her husband Odysseus, the king of Ithaca. Her son Telemachus is already grown into a young man eager to be as famous as his father. When pirates attack one of the coastal cities in search of gold, Penelope must try to defend herself with the few men who did not leave for Troy. Meanwhile, those same men expect her to choose a new husband. And then there are rumours that her cousin Clythemnestra is hiding in Ithaca, after the murder of her husband Agamemnon.

Jes, another Greek myth retelling. By an author unknown to me, who normally writes science fiction. ‘Ithaca‘ is the first book of a planned trilogy and tells the story of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife from the perspective of the goddess Hera. This unique point of view is an original choice and makes for an entertaining book. Hera is critical for her fellow Gods and the human race, but also a loving mother to the three Greek queens (Helen, Clythemnestra and Penelope).

However, the pace of the story is ridiculously slow and very little happens, especially in the middle of the book. The book is very character-driven, but I don’t think Penelope and Telemachus really come off as interesting. I felt they were overshadowed by Clythemnestra and Ellektra who also pop up in the story. There are so many suitors involved and I couldn’t keep up with who was who. And then you also have Penelope’s women who are preparing for war and who feel interchangeable. I didn’t build a relationship with any of the characters.

North writes beautiful sentences with an overtly feminist slant. But she couldn’t always hold my attention. So I don’t know yet if I want to read the next part. This book reminded me of ‘Argo‘ by Mark Knowles. Trying to turn a myth into a series involves a lot of detail and then the story loses some of its value.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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