Book Review: Daughter of Sparta by Clare M. Andrews

Set in the mythical past, Daughter of Sparta, which I received from NetGalley for review, draws loosely on the story of Daphne and Apollo. Andrews does not rehash the ancient story in modern language or setting; rather, she plays with timelines, figures, and myths to tell her own story, drawing on Olympian gods, heroes, and monsters as suit the narrative. Her Daphne is an orphan who grew up in Sparta and longs to be a warrior. After an athletic competition takes an unexpected turn, Daphne is sent on a quest to save the Olympian pantheon, bringing her into contact with Apollo (who has been rendered mortal as punishment), Theseus, and Minos, among others.

The plot unfolds as a popular type of heroic journey: The warrior hero is sent to recover something valuable to the gods that has been stolen from them and encounters many violent dangers along the way. Adventure, a romance, and an endless array of requisite gory clashes with mythical gods and monsters all feature. Some of the mood shifts struck me as abrupt, and the characters’ motivations at times felt forced or unconvincing. But the choices Andrews makes are interesting to track.

On a purely personal level, I admit that I would love to see contemporary novels tackle other kinds of hero stories, not only warriors. In the world of ancient myth, what other kinds of conflicts existed and how else did heroes fulfill their purpose? Imagine a novel from Penelope’s point of view (no, Penelopiad does not count) or Iphigenia’s! With so much to mine, it surprises me how often warriors seem to be the default narrative mode. That said, Daughter of Sparta has the ingredients for an engaging fantasy-adventure. I recommend it especially for readers who enjoy myth-based, highly physical adventure and educators interested in contemporary novels in conversation with mythical themes and figures.

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Daughter of Sparta by Clare M. Andrews

  1. This book sounds exciting!

    It says “James Patterson presents” – that guy is everywhere and known for boosting/helping writers – right on!

    But I do like what you said about how it would be nice to explore different kinds of ancient mythological characters, not just the heroes/people in a typical hero role. I would love an Iphigenia story – or like one with a happy twist of sorts, like after she becomes a deer she has adventures, and maybe she can ultimately become human again, whether due to an encounter with another mythological figure or by confronting her dad or falling in love…so many possibilities! And of course, that’s not even counting her tragic story pre-deer transformation which could also, of course, make for a fascinating and moving story.

    I know you aren’t doing fiction now, but have you ever considered writing about her or Penelope or another of these different kinds of mythological characters? If you’re taking requests, in addition to those two, what about Odysseus’ loyal dog? I think there are a lot of possibilities there, too.

    1. I LOVE your ideas for Iphigenia’s story and kind of want YOU to write that novel for us! 🙂 I especially love the idea of a journey back to mortality. What a brilliant play on the myths that would be! Also, a novel from the POV of Odysseus’ dog…I would read that novel!
      Yes, I definitely want to write about Penelope, Iphigenia, and the other amazing women of Greek myth (and the real-life women of Greek history are pretty fascinating as well, to be honest).

  2. …I realize that maybe by saying a post-deer transformation Iphigenia story would be cool might seem like it would negate what is so important about her known story – but I feel like if it were done right, it would let her reflect on what happened and maybe grow from it or reject it. I just wanted you to know I’m being serious, not mocking poor Iphigenia. 🙂

    1. Of course I knew you weren’t mocking her! 🙂 I honestly think it’s a brilliant idea for a story (as long as it doesn’t devolve into another warrior story…).

    2. I’m glad you like my ideas (and knew I was serious) – and THRILLED that YOU want to write about these and other Ancient Greek women! I really want to read that book!

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