Adult Fiction,  review

Book Review: HERA by Jennifer Saint

I’ve talked before about how I looooove a myth retelling, and one of my favourite writers giving a voice to the women of Greek mythology is Jennifer Saint. Her fourth novel, Hera, is released in Australia today and I was lucky enough to get an early copy on my kindle thanks to Hachette (via NetGalley). This one kept me company on several train trips across England – you can check out my review below the blurb from the publisher.

Synopsis of Hera by Jennifer Saint

When Hera, immortal goddess and daughter of the ancient Titan Cronus, helps her brother Zeus to overthrow their tyrannical father, she dreams of ruling at his side.

As they establish their reign on Mount Olympus, Hera suspects that Zeus might be just as ruthless and cruel as the father they betrayed.

She was always born to rule, but must she lose herself in perpetuating this cycle of violence and cruelty? Or can she find a way to forge a better world?

Often portrayed as the jealous wife or the wicked stepmother, this retelling captures the many sides of Hera, vengeful when she needs to be but also compassionate and most importantly, an all-powerful queen to the gods.

***

My review of Jennifer Saint’s Hera

One of the reasons I was keen to see how Saint approached Hera’s story was that I’ve really only seen bits and pieces of her popping up in someone else’s story, and generally the portrayal is negative. She’s jealous, she’s mean, she’s spiteful, she cursed poor Heracles (I have recently read HERC so maybe more about that in another review). I think we know from real life that if those are the first things we notice about someone there is probably a story behind those sorts of behaviours, and that was something I was looking forward to exploring through this book. In Hera, Saint does really focus on the story behind the Hera we have seen before, in terms of her motivations and experiences, and the pain and grief that comes with what she loses to Zeus – and his children. I really liked the way Hera looks at that cycle of violence and cruelty and distrust that we see in Zeus, as mentioned in the synopsis, overthrowing Cronus and then sort of becoming him.

Where Hera fell a little bit short for me, compared to Saint’s previous works, was that I never felt a connection with Hera, or like I was immersed in her world. As I read, I always had the feeling of being held at arm’s length from Hera, and like I was watching her story unfold from a distance rather than seeing it through her eyes and being there by her side. I’m not sure whether this was a deliberate choice in how the story was told, or due to the book cover such a long span of time (from the victory over the Titans all the way to the fall of Zeus) that it has to skim the surface a bit in places. I’m really interested to hear what other readers think. The times when I felt closest to Hera were the bits about her children – especially Hephaestus and his children.

Overall I did still enjoy this, and I’m sure people with an interest in Greek myth will probably find plenty to like about it too. I think I would describe it as reflective rather than active, if that makes sense, as I didn’t find it very plot driven but there was a lot presented about Hera to think about.

I’m interested to know whether you’ve got this one on your to read list too, or if you’ve read it (in which case I’d love to know what you thought!)

xo Bron

***

Hera by Jennifer Saint
Out now from Hachette
Source: Hachette kindly provided me an ecopy (via NetGalley) to review
Category: Retelling, Greek mythology
Format: EBook

Hera on Goodreads
Find Jennifer Saint online here
My review of Ariadne
My review of Elecktra

Love a Greek Myth retelling? Check out more of my reviews here.

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