Book Review: An Unexpected Ally by Sophia Kouidou-Giles

About the Book:

Title: An Unexpected Ally: A Greek Tale of Love, Revenge, and Redemption

Author: Sophia Kouidou-Giles

Page Length: 256

Publication Date: Oct. 3, 2023

Publisher: She Writes Press

Synopsis: Powerful Circe, daughter of the sun-god Helios, is sad to see Odysseus, King of Ithaca, depart from her island, Aeaea—but her heartbreak is eased after dolphins take her to Delos, where she explores a new love relationship.

Circe has a strained relationship with her mother, Perse, but when she finally listens to Perse’s encouragement to seek out the amphibian god Glaucus, she’s glad she’s heeded her advice. Together, the two embark on underwater adventures, and Circe shares with Glaucus her knowledge about the healing and harmful power of herbs. While in Delos, she also meets and befriends Skylla, a local beauty with whom Glaucus is enthralled, although the girl is indifferent.

Circe eventually returns to Aeaea, but one day she learns, upon consulting her scrying mirror, that there is trouble in Delos that requires her immediate action. In the turbulent world of gods mingling with mortals, our heroine shifts shapes, flies, and uses her superpowers to reverse the course of evil.

In a tangle of love, hate, vengeance, and the final righting of wrongs, a cast of irresistible characters weaves an adventure laced with beauty and terror in An Unexpected Ally —a newly woven set of tales that brings to life ancient Greek myths and revives issues familiar to contemporary readers.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

I never tire of mythological retellings, and this story of Circe, a powerful sorceress in Greek mythology, is captivating. It follows her during and after Odysseus’s time on her island, and presents us with a strong, fearless, and layered woman.

In The Odyssey, Circe’s character is a bit one-dimensional, as are the majority of the female characters. And often in literature, Circe is portrayed to be a selfish seductress who is vengeful and petty in her dealings with men. However, in An Unexpected Ally, we see a layered character who is not entirely good and not entirely evil. She is a woman who feels deeply, wants to be loved, and takes the initiative to seek out love after Odysseus’s rejection and rumors of another possible match.

We also see how her relationships, especially with her mother, influence her life. Her need to be loved and her life of rejection and judgment influences a lot of her actions and desires. Circe develops many new relationships over the course of the story, and I found her relationships with several humans really intriguing. The unexpected friendship she develops with a particular young woman and potential rival is my favorite, and I found it really interesting how Circe uses her skills and powers to help so many mortals but most especially her new friend. I also loved the unique spin on Skylla’s story. A sea monster who terrorizes Odysseus and his crew, Skylla has never been presented in this way, and it was so intriguing!

I enjoyed An Unexpected Ally. It’s a well-paced and immersive retelling with vivid and rich imagery and world-building, and a layered and compelling protagonist. I would definitely recommend it to readers who are looking for a unique Greek myth retelling and an engrossing story of a woman searching for love and connection, friendship, redemption, and more. Special thanks to Books Forward for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.



Favorite Parts:

  • The story of Skylla.
  • The themes.
  • Circe!

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