Book Reviews

Review: Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood

Lies We Sing to the Sea is a queer re-imagining of the Twelve Maidens. It’s a story about revenge and love. While it took a while to get started, I greatly enjoyed seeing this queer take on Greek mythology and the characters. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


Each spring, Ithaca condemns twelve maidens to the noose. This is the price vengeful Poseidon demands for the lives of Queen Penelope’s twelve maids, hanged and cast into the depths centuries ago.

But when that fate comes for Leto, death is not what she thought it would be. Instead, she wakes on a mysterious island and meets a girl with green eyes and the power to command the sea. A girl named Melantho, who says one more death can stop a thousand.

The prince of Ithaca must die—or the tides of fate will drown them all.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Lies We Sing to the Sea‘s strength are the characters. Beginning with the tale of the Twelve Maids, it has a foundation in inequality. In the ways these maids, these women, were wronged. How rulers and heroes escape punishment and death. And how they’re never the ones to pay the price. From a premise alone, I was entranced. With that framework, it took me a long time to warm up to Mathias. He’s privilege, a prince, and is forced to witness the hanging each year. While the deaths weigh on his conscience, and he’s lost his own sister, Lies We Sing to the Sea doesn’t let anyone escape unaffected.

Unpredictably, Leto and Melantho were my favorite characters. Not only did I ship these two, but their stories were complex. Lies We Sing to the Sea ends up being focused on their dilemmas, their relationships, and their own past. The pacing of this – while we were on a clock the whole time – felt a bit slow and I wasn’t sure what options they had, the characters were the best part of the story. It’s a story focused on characters and choice. Those who truly have none and those who feel they have none. And the difference between those two.

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Lies We Sing to the Sea ended up being more character focused than I thought. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just meant that the middle part of the book dragged more than I was expecting. If you are intrigued by the premise and concept, this is still worth a read. It’s a story about choices and what we would do for change. Find Lies We Sing to the Sea on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon, Indiebound,, & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite Greek reimagining?

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