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Book Review: Clytemnestra’s Bind by Susan C Wilson

A feminist retelling centered on a reviled figure in Greek mythology

By Marie SinadjanPublished 4 months ago 3 min read
Top Story - December 2023
5

The House of Atreus is spiralling into self-destruction—a woman must find a way to break the family curse.

Queen Clytemnestra's world shatters when Agamemnon, a rival to the throne of Mycenae, storms her palace, destroys her family and claims not only the throne but Clytemnestra herself.

Tormented by her loss, she vows to do all she can to protect the children born from her unhappy marriage to Agamemnon. But when her husband casts his ruthless gaze towards the wealthy citadel of Troy, his ambitions threaten, once more, to destroy the family Clytemnestra loves.

From one of Greek mythology's most reviled characters—a woman who challenged the absolute power of men—comes this fiery tale of power, family rivalry and a mother's burning love.

Placing motherhood at the heart of the story, Clytemnestra’s voice is heard in a new way. It also explores society's obligation to conform to stereotypical gender expectations and shows the explosive powerplay between men and women in a patriarchal society.

GENRE: Epic Fantasy / Greek Mythology Retelling

PURCHASE LINK: Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan C Wilson is a working-class Scottish writer. Her lifelong passion for ancient Greece was ignited as a child by stumbling across stories of gods and heroes in the dictionary. She loves to explore what makes us human: the eternal motivations, desires and instincts that cross time and place.

She has a degree in journalism from Napier University and, in preparation for writing her novels, gained a diploma in classical studies from the Open University. Clytemnestra’s Bind, her debut novel, was long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2019. It is the first in The House of Atreus trilogy and will be published by Neem Tree Press in June 2023. www.susancwilson.co.uk

Review

It had been a while since I dabbled in this side of Greek mythology, so I had to remind myself of a couple of things. The family tree in the beginning of the book helped immensely, as did the character lists in the end. But there were other points I needed to brush up on to fully appreciate what had been said about this book, beginning with just how reviled Clytemnestra was.

A blog describes her as "probably the most notorious woman in Greek mythology after Medea" for killing the man who killed her daughter — who happened to be her husband. These days we'd call that a strong, badass female protagonist. But out of all the mothers who lost a child in the myths, she seemed to be the only one who "chose retaliation over grief," taking on a what's been deemed as a traditionally masculine role. Thus, the "feminist retelling" part comes into play.

I liked the prose; it was not needlessly wordy, vivid in just a few words. There were a lot of great quotes. The pacing and flow was good, too. But what I really loved was the focus on motherhood. I'd been a little wary at first because oftentimes when "feminist" is used it's about the FMC being this angry, burn-down-the-patriarchy girlboss. But to my pleasant surprise, it was more about her relationship with her children, and her marriage to a man the likes of Agamemnon. It really cut deep.

Ziyad, a Goodreads reviewer, summed it up beautifully: "This reads as Clytemnestra’s story and not the story of Clytemnestra, it is hers to tell."

Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy!

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️️⭐️️

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Hi! I'm Marie, a Filipino fantasy author and book reviewer currently based in the UK. I’m the co-author of The Prophecies of Ragnarok, a Norse myth new adult urban fantasy trilogy, and I also have several short stories published in anthologies and literary journals.

If you like what I do, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi! 🩷 https://ko-fi.com/mariesinadjan

ReviewRecommendationGenreFiction
5

About the Creator

Marie Sinadjan

Filipino spec fic author and book reviewer based in the UK. https://linktr.ee/mariesinadjan • www.mariesinadjan.com

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  • ROCK 4 months ago

    What a lucky discovery your writing/ reviews are for me today. I have so many must reads and at soon 61 years of age I have a lot of books to both write and read! Thanks for this interesting contribute to The Vocal!

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