Book Review: Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

About the Book:

Title: Clytemnestra

Author: Costanza Casati

Page Length: 448

Publication Date: March 7, 2023

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Synopsis: As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best…

You were born to a king, but you marry a tyrant. You stand by helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore, and you comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own. Because this was not the first offence against you. This was not the life you ever deserved. And this will not be your undoing. Slowly, you plot.

But when your husband returns in triumph, you become a woman with a choice.

Acceptance or vengeance, infamy follows both. So, you bide your time and force the gods’ hands in the game of retribution. For you understood something long ago that the others never did.

If power isn’t given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

A blazing novel set in the world of Ancient Greece for fans of Jennifer Saint and Natalie Haynes, this is a thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of an unforgettable Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who wronged her.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

You will be despised by many, hated by others, and punished. But, in the end, you will be free.

I just finished reading Clytemnestra, and I have a lot of thoughts. There’s so much I want to talk about – the immersive setting and engrossing story, the brilliant storytelling and writing, the feminist perspective, the dynamic characters, the way it makes you think – I loved it all, and thought it’s only February, I have a feeling this is going to be one of my most memorable reads of the year.

Deeply moving, with rich and lush imagery, poetic and immersive storytelling, and unforgettable characters, Clytemnestra offers a fresh and profound feminist reimagining of one of the most reviled women in Greek mythology. Known for murdering her husband Agamemnon after his victorious return from Troy, Clytemnestra is often painted the villain and is considered a vicious and hateful female. She’s described as treacherous and power hungry and often an adulteress with evil intentions. Yet, the mythologies don’t really shed light on Clytemnestra’s experience as the wife of a brutal, manipulative, and murderous man – a man who lied and betrayed his wife and family when he had their eldest daughter sacrificed to the gods.

The book delves into Clytemnestra’s younger years, her strong relationship with her sister Helen, and the lovely romance and relationship she had with her first husband. I knew little about Clytemnestra’s first husband or her life before marrying Agamemnon. Doesn’t that say something about the role of women and their inferiority to men in Greek mythology? Clytemnestra’s story is often defined by her connection to Agamemnon, but her life didn’t begin when she married. She had a full, rich life with family, a new son, and a loving and loyal husband. Her first husband is a foil to Agamemnon and further highlights the cruelty and selfishness of a usually revered hero in mythology. Clytemnestra had a home with people and friends who loved her, but she lost it all to Agamemnon’s selfish desires.

Clytemnestra’s journey also explores her life before, during, and after Agamemnon’s time in the Trojan War. It’s a fascinating look at a complex and resilient woman as she faces lies, betrayal, brutality, the death of a beloved daughter at the hand of her husband, new love, revenge plots, motherhood, and more.

Helen’s is another fascinating character, and through Clytemnestra’s story, we learn what happened to Helen throughout her childhood and womanhood. It tells of her abuse at the hands of several well-known and revered men and shows her in a new light too. She is not the vain or vapid woman that other stories suggest. I like that her character, like Clytemnestra’s, is complex and layered. It offers sensical insight into her thoughts and actions and how much control she actually had over the events that unfolded in her life.

I love stories like this. For one, I always enjoy a mythological retelling. But this story also makes you reevaluate what you thought you knew about characters and stories. It makes you see a well-known story from another perspective. It elicits feelings of sympathy for characters who are offered little in their stories. Clytemnestra is a complex and dynamically developed protagonist, deeply human with flaws and faults and strengths and weaknesses. The story is an insightful and prolific view of a woman who is often portrayed one-dimensionally.

I’m so thankful to sourcebooks Landmark for gifting me a copy of Clytemnestra. It was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it was fantastic. Casati said, “I felt compelled to retell her story and make readers fall in love with her again,” and that’s just what she does in this brilliant and thought-provoking story of sacrifice, revenge, love, and resilience.



Favorite Lines:

She will bow to no one. Her destiny will be what she wants it to be.

Lucky women never get past the envy of gods.

Nothing can ever stay the same. You can’t step twice into the same river.

When vengeance calls and the gods stop watching, what happens to those who have touched the people i love?


I would definitely recommend Clytemnestra to reader who enjoy Greek mythology, mythological retellings, or feminist retellings.

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