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House of Odysseus – Claire North

House of Odysseus – Claire North

I bought this for a friend’s birthday and then she lent it to me (perfect present!). I have read another Claire North novel, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which I really enjoyed so I was keen to read this one.

Here’s the blurb …

House of Odysseus is the follow up to award-winning author Claire North’s Ithaca “a powerful, fresh, and unflinching” reimagining (Jennifer Saint) that breathes life into ancient myth and gives voice to the women who stand defiant in a world ruled by ruthless men.

In the palace of Odysseus, a queen lies dreaming . . .

On the isle of Ithaca, queen Penelope maintains a delicate balance of power. Many years ago, her husband Odysseus sailed to war with Troy and never came home. In his absence, Penelope uses all her cunning to keep the peace—a peace that is shattered by the return of Orestes, King of Mycenae, and his sister Elektra.

Orestes’ hands are stained with his mother’s blood. Not so long ago, the son of Agamemnon took Queen Clytemnestra’s life on Ithaca’s sands. Now, wracked with guilt, he grows ever more unhinged. But a king cannot be seen to be weak, and Elektra has brought him to Ithaca to keep him safe from the ambitious men of Mycenae.

Penelope knows destruction will follow in his wake as surely as the furies circle him. His uncle Menelaus, the blood-soaked king of Sparta, hungers for Orestes’ throne—and if he can seize it, no one will be safe from his violent whims.

Trapped between two mad kings, Penelope must find a way to keep her home from being crushed by the machinations of a battle that stretches from Mycenae and Sparta to the summit of Mount Olympus itself. Her only allies are Elektra, desperate to protect her brother, and Helen of Troy, Menelaus’ wife. And watching over them all is the goddess Aphrodite, who has plans of her own.

For me, this novel took a long time to get going. I much preferred the second half to the first half and I think it would make a fabulous movie or TV series. It puts the women front and centre in the Greek myths and shows how they have to be and behave to survive in a patriarchal (not to mention misogynist) world. I did enjoy the female-centredness of this novel (and how it is all resolved is fabulous).

I haven’t read Ithaca and perhaps I would have enjoyed this more having read that. I am also not very familiar with the myths so I would have missed any allusions etc.

A review

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Filed under 3, Fiction, Historical Fiction