I’m sure I’m with everyone right now and totally obsessed with Greek mythology re-imaginings. So it’s no surprise that I needed to read Wrath Goddess Sing. This queer retelling of The Illiad is thrilling not only for the action, but also the character of Achilles. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: homophobia, misgendering, transphobia
I only know the bare bones of The Illiad, so most of Wrath Goddess Sing was new to me. With my knowledge, I kind of knew the big pieces of the story, but the depths of it – and everyone involved – was a surprise. That being said, the action in Wrath Goddess Sing is unparalleled. It delivers a steady current of action, adventure, and intrigue. I loved watching the threads of this story come together. Like a lot of stories of mythology, a large theme of fate and agency is present.
This has to be one of my favorite elements – I’m so predictable. But give me a character straining against the ways our lives are influenced, pushed and pulled by the gods any day. I will always root for them to figure out their own agency and choices. So figuring out what the gods are hiding from us, as well as how our futures are guided by pieces of magic and destiny, is explored throughout Wrath Goddess Sing. If you love that theme, and Greek mythology, then you have to read this one. It feels similar and fresh all at once.
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Wrath Goddess Sing is also full of brilliant character work all around. I loved how Deane develops Patroclus and Merkapi. They were some of my favorite scenes in the whole book – how Achilles finds her found family. As a whole, Wrath Goddess Sing is rooted in her story. Her efforts to carve out our own story, to make our own mark, and choose our own terms. There were some meta touches I loved as well! Overall, it’s a fantastic fantasy debut that is sure to thrill Greek mythology fans and readers who love stories featuring trans main characters and heroines who fight for agency.