Title: Wrath Goddess Sing
Author: Maya Deane
Genre: Mythology, Retelling
Published: June 7th, 2022 (William Morrow)
Synopsis: The gods wanted blood. She fought for love.
Achilles has fled her home and her vicious Myrmidon clan to live as a woman with the kallai, the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite. When Odysseus comes to recruit the “prince” Achilles for a war against the Hittites, she prepares to die rather than fight as a man. However, her divine mother, Athena, intervenes, transforming her body into the woman’s body she always longed for, and promises her everything: glory, power, fame, victory in war, and, most importantly, a child born of her own body. Reunited with her beloved cousin, Patroklos, and his brilliant wife, the sorceress Meryapi, Achilles sets out to war with a vengeance.
But the gods – a dysfunctional family of abusive immortals that have glutted on human sacrifices for centuries – have woven ancient schemes more blood-soaked and nightmarish than Achilles can imagine. At the center of it all is the cruel, immortal Helen, who sees Achilles as a worthy enemy after millennia of ennui and emptiness. In love with her newfound nemesis, Helen sets out to destroy everything and everyone Achilles cherishes, seeking a battle to the death.
An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.
Thank you to the publisher, William Morrow, and HCC Frenzy for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Achilles has been hiding on Skyros among the kallai, living as a woman ever since she fled her cruel Myrmidon clan. When war is declared against the Hittites and Odysseus arrives to recruit ‘Prince’ Achilles, she chooses to die rather than be forced back to a life she doesn’t want, to fight as a man, but Athena, her divine mother, intervenes and grants her the woman’s body she has always wanted. And so Achilles goes to war. But as she becomes ever more entangled in the battles, she learns that it is the hand of the bloodthirsty gods behind it all. Their power fuelled by human sacrifices from wars over centuries, they have woven terrible schemes to make things fall into place and grow stronger. The cruel immortal sorceress Helen is at the center of it all and marks Achilles as a worthy foe, aiming to destroy everyone she holds dear in pursuit of a final battle with her. The war will not end until one of them is dead, and Achilles must be careful who she chooses to trust.
Wrath Goddess Sing was a magnificent retelling of Achilles’ tale and the Trojan War where Achilles is a trans woman, a demigod daughter of Athena. Somehow, this book completely slipped my notice when I was putting together my TBR for the year, but after seeing it on HCC Frenzy’s Summer Preview a couple of months ago, I knew I had to pick it up. I know a fair bit of Greek mythology, it being one of my favorite subjects for a retelling, but I’ve never come across something quite like this before. The key elements of the story are still there and as the book progresses, it becomes easier to pick out recognizable events and plotlines, but the way some of the other mythologies and cultures are woven in, particularly the gods’ stories, where the complex dynamics took some time to make sense of, were simply stunning. It takes the plot to some rather unexpected places for a retelling of the Iliad and it was so much fun to follow along with this epic version of an epic tale – this was the Trojan War unlike anything I could have ever imagined! I feel however, it would be a mistake to compare this to The Song of Achilles. The very interpretation of the two books are so far apart that going into this with similar expectations would result in a very disappointing read. Wrath Goddess Sing was a magnificent standalone and it’s hard to believe that this was a debut novel!
To my knowledge, the trans representation was well written, particularly the description of the kallai and how Achilles was portrayed. She was such an amazing character, strong, stubborn, loyal and flawed. I also loved the other characters, particularly Patroklos and Meryapi, whose arcs the author did a fabulous job with, bringing them to life and really allowing the reader to connect to them. Despite being a retelling, some core facts remain, so as a reader I knew what was coming all along – but it says something that this story still managed to draw me into this version of the narrative and shock me at those very points, making the emotional impact of those moments just as effective as if I was learning of it for the first time.
Perhaps the only thing I truly didn’t like as much about this book was the relatively slow pacing. While it was greatly beneficial in terms of character development, I felt like it slowed down the plot and could have been sped up a bit with no harm to the former. The plot itself seemed to wander at times and though they always made sense later when the pieces came together, I found it kind of annoying because I remember the events of the Trojan War on a kind of timeline and was waiting impatiently for the next major event or battle to come about. The whole deal with the gods and their complicated schemes also gave me a headache for a while, not least because the narrative wasn’t using the Greek names I was accustomed to – and the glossary that made it clearer was at the very end of my eARC so I didn’t even know it was there until I had muddled through it on my own.
Wrath Goddess Sing was an imaginative take on Achilles’ story that took me completely by surprise and I enjoyed it greatly. This is undoubtedly a book I’m going to be talking about for several months to come, and I can’t wait to see what this author writes next! If you are a fan of mythological retellings, I would definitely recommend this book!
Wrath Goddess Sing releases on June 7th, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!