I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Wrath Goddess Sing by Maya Deane
Published by HarperCollins on June 7, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical, Fiction / Historical / Ancient, Fiction / LGBTQ+ / Transgender
Format: ARC, Hardcover
Drawing on ancient texts and modern archeology to reveal the trans woman’s story hidden underneath the well-known myths of The Iliad, Maya Deane’s Wrath Goddess Sing weaves a compelling, pitilessly beautiful vision of Achilles’ vanished world, perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and the Inheritance trilogy.
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.
An innovative spin on a familiar tale, this is the Trojan War unlike anything ever told, and an Achilles whose vulnerability is revealed by the people she chooses to fight…and chooses to trust.
Review once again by my roommate because I DNF’d this one thirty pages in, realizing that I actually hate myth retellings?? I received this at no cost from NetGalley, but my roommate checked it out of the library. (Can I count this for my library challenge? Hmm.)
i really enjoyed wrath goddess sing and read it surprisingly quickly – though my speed was definitely encouraged partly by the library due date. but once i started, i had trouble putting this book down.
wrath goddess sing is a sort-of retelling of the iliad, though i would not know precisely because its been a good decade since i read the iliad. in any case, this book stars achilles as kallai, a trans woman, demigod, princess, daughter of athena, wild and brash; her body magically transforms into one she has all her life desired, then she is tasked in leading her army of myrmidons in the achaean battle to recapture helen from the hittites, which ends up as her personal rebellion against the manipulations of the gods and her fight to hold on to those whom she loves.
i also have to say i am extremely into the following description of this trans man character, brisewos:
but to achilles, everything was suddenly clear. he was like her, but a man: a man’s soul born in a woman’s body that burned and raged inside it, and finally tore it into the shape of his soul, the mirror of the way the kallai cut their bodies to be free of their shame. those scars on his chest, on his hips, belly, thighs—in her mind’s eye, she could see the blood, the rage, the gritted teeth as he hacked and sawed and laughed and shook and went into shock, the dazed days and nights half-dead, and then the horror and the anger of his sisters, who did not understand.
like, this is rad as fuck. this is balls to the wall fucking cool as hell. this was fucking gnarly and awesome and i am obsessed with how clear the desperation, the absolute need to scar and maul your body to make it into something you know it should be: that’s deeply relatable, and also cool.
i will say that the last couple chapters of the book, after the warring ends, lost me a bit. i can appreciate where deane was trying to take me with it, i just do not feel like i got there, you know? in any case, reading her author bio just made me think i would be delighted to have a conversation about the woman bartender and beer brewer who became king of sumer, or ancient canaanite food, or the scholarly feline apollo, or probably anything she knows a lot about because she seems cool.
four out of five stars.