Book Review: "Phaedra" by Laura Shepperson
“Phaedra” is a powerful, well told tale of a minor character from Greek mythology whose story will matter a great deal to the reader.
Set in the time of Theseus, Medea, Minos, and other ancient Greek figures of myth, this novel moves swiftly, and Laura Shepperson’s prose is astonishingly crisp and clear. Indeed, the clarity and unsentimentality of her words are what lift this book up among the current crush of novels about ancient myth and folklore.
Phaedra is young, a pawn, and doing her best in a world that is brutal—it’s important that readers know that Shepperson does not shrink from telling how hard it was for women in ancient Greece. But as I read it, at times deeply unsettled about just how badly women fare in the Athens of Shepperson’s imagination, I thought, well, based on what we know of women’s status in Ancient Greece, the depictions in “Phaedra” are pretty plausible. I appreciated the feeling of truth this book had, despite its being grounded in myth. (Note: Rape and sexual assault are a point of focus in this book, but it is not gratuitous and is handled carefully. The book is also not a depressing read, despite its subject matter.)
In this book, you’ll find mystery, tragedy, loss, myth, bull jumping, artistry, intrigue, bravery and treachery. All of the characters and plot lines work well together. “Phaedra” captured me and held my attention the whole way through. I’m glad I read it.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this book for review.
Review by Kate Wolford, editor-in-chief, The Fairy Tale Magazine.