Title: The Heroines
Publisher: 31st January 2023 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 338 pages
Genre: Greek mythology, historical fiction, retellings
My Rating: 3 cups
In Athens, crowds flock to witness the most shocking trial of the ancient world. The royal family is mired in scandal. Phaedra, young bride of King Theseus, has accused her stepson, Hippolytus of rape.
He's a prince, a talented horseman, a promising noble with his whole life ahead of him. She's a young and neglected wife, the youngest in a long line of Cretan women with less than savoury reputations.
The men of Athens must determine the truth. Who is guilty, and who is innocent?
But the women know truth is a slippery thing. After all, this is the age of heroes and the age of monsters. There are two sides to every story, and theirs has gone unheard.
‘I was to learn the truth: that any man can throw words up into the air, and it is women who must pay when those words land.’
The Heroines joins a strong group of Greek mythologies currently on offer for readers. Set out like a Greek tragedy with three acts and a Chorus (giving voice to the women of Greece - very clever!) it is presented as a powerful feminist retelling of Theseus's wife, Phaedra. This is a tale of women's rights and how they fought during this period against the often cruel ways of men and alas, their also often sad demise.
The story is presented through a range of characters in individual chapters and reads like a letter in many ways rather than a direct retelling. This makes the reader somewhat removed from the story and problems further arise with a large cast of characters. These are all in first person (with frequent switches) and do not allow for full development. I do enjoy these Greek retellings regaling the lost voice of women, however, this book does not reach the standard of others currently on offer.
The reader is left wanting something more in both character development and world building. The author does, however, clearly highlight the plight of women and their lack of power at this time.
The Heroines is a fresh and contemporary retelling of this Greek myth, especially through the eyes of Phaedra who is often overshadowed by stronger characters from the period. Whilst I was excited to read her story and the book held potential, it needed more depth for me to make those necessary, deep connections.
‘If they are the heroes, does that make us the heroines?
We keep going, we persevere, we ask for nothing and we get even less.
Where are our stories?’
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.