If you love mythology, this book feels a little like a who’s who of mythological characters. I don’t remember learning about Clytemnestra in school, but to be fair her story is more complicated, tragic, and messy than most.

About the Book

Queen Clytemnestra’s world shatters when Agamemnon, a rival to the throne of Mycenae, storms her palace, destroys her family, and claims not only the throne but Clytemnestra herself.

Tormented by her loss, she vows to do all she can to protect the children born from her unhappy marriage to Agamemnon. But when her husband casts his ruthless gaze towards the wealthy citadel of Troy, his ambitions threaten, once more, to destroy the family Clytemnestra loves.

From one of Greek mythology’s most reviled characters—a woman who challenged the absolute power of men—comes this fiery tale of power, family rivalry and a mother’s burning love.

My Thoughts

If we learned about Clytemnestra, it must have been a blip in someone else’s story, and of course it would be, right? Despite having a majority of female teachers, most curriculums are still centered around white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males in this country. So the majority of our Greek historical and literary learning would have focused on men’s stories. So I have some mixed feelings here. One that one hand, I’m sad I didn’t learn her story earlier. But I’m also saddened by her story, so visiting it was hard. It was especially hard to read as a fellow woman and mother!

Clytemnestra’s life was steeped in tragedy and hardship, which unfortunately was not uncommon in her time for women – as she pointed out several times – whether common or noble born. Like so many women in her period, she was stuck in a marriage she didn’t want, with only her children to love. And even those were taken from her because they were obsessed with capturing scraps of attention from their father. Having been a stay-at-home parent when my kid could only see her dad for a few hours during the week at times, it does hurt when they’re obsessed with their dad when you’re pretty much doing everything.

This woman sacrificed so much for a man she didn’t love and who didn’t even like her, much less love her. He saw her as little more than a breeding animal to give him a son. She grieved and she broke a few times, but she remained strong and she fought for what she loved most – her children. Clytemnestra was a bit of a morally grey character, but I couldn’t really fault her for any of her choices. She was trying to survive in nearly impossible situations, trying to make the best decisions she could for her children. I enjoyed her character, as well as her daughter Iphigenia. Whereas, I’ve never wanted to slap a child before in my life, but Electra, her second daughter, made me want to do that multiple times. She was wicked in pursuit of her father’s affection. I’ve never seen such bad “Daddy issues” in my life. It honestly sickened me. The little boy, Orestes, was also misguided, but not nearly as much as Electra.

The relationships built between Clytemnestra and her children were interesting to watch. From the outside, I could imagine some of what the future held, but I never could have guessed the ending of this book. If you’re more familiar with Greek mythology, you probably will guess it. It turned out worse than I imagined, leaving us with a cliffhanger. When it finished, I was all “I sure hope there’s a second book!” And it looks like there is going to be, so whew! We can walk the halls and grounds of Mycenae again someday and find out what happens!

Sometimes I hear murdered children in the corridors of the palace.

Clytemnestra’s Bind

Having not spent much time, especially after high school literature classes, learning about ancient Greek mythology or life, it was interesting to see some of the day-to-day experience. One hopes that the majority of men were not as cruel as Agamemnon and that the other men in Clytemnestra’s life were more common, but we know men like him did exist. The book managed to fit in a lot of daily life around the big, bright, brutal stuff, like how they kept the men separate from the women and children for the most part, and how they took the boys away as soon as they could for training. We saw festivals that were quite odd to celebrate and tributes to their gods. All offered real insight into their lives. I don’t know how much research was done, so I don’t know how accurate it was, but it was very interesting to imagine. These little details brought the characters and the setting to life.

I also really enjoyed Aegisthus’ character, as well. He seemed unlikable at first but quickly grew into a mostly loveable, morally grey character. His love for his family – all of them – was complicated but real. His story’s twists and turns were almost as tragic, wild, and vital to the story as Clytemnestra’s own. I look forward to seeing more of him in future books.

I received a free paperback of this from the author and publisher along with TheWritesReads Tours, for which I am so grateful. These thoughts are all my own. I look forward to reading more by this author, especially the follow-up to this book! I want to know what happens to Clytemnestra and her crew.

Who’s It For?

If you love Greek myths and strong female characters, you’ll love this book. It explores motherhood, gender roles, and society through a woman’s eyes. Please check out the content warnings though and protect your mental health!

Note: I decided to start keeping a note with me to keep up with content warnings because I’m always scrambling at the end to remember them. I filled this note up so fast with this one! If you’re into the kind of book with a page-long list of trigger warnings (and I know I have some friends who are!) then this is the book for you!

Content Warnings: Murder, Accidental/Forced Cannibalism, SA, Sexism, Infidelity, Graphic Violence (including against children and infants), Pregnancy, Childbirth, Abortion, Miscarriage, Infant Death, Child Death, Parent Death, Spousal Death, Domestic Abuse, Controlling Partner, War, Ritual Sacrifice, Animal Cruelty, Incest, and probably More.

About the Author

Susan C Wilson is a working-class Scottish writer. Her lifelong passion for ancient Greece was ignited as a child by stumbling across stories of gods and heroes in the dictionary. She loves to explore what makes us human: the eternal motivations, desires, and instincts that cross time and place.

She has a degree in journalism from Napier University and, in preparation for writing her novels, gained a diploma in classical studies from the Open University. Clytemnestra’s Bind, her debut novel, was long-listed for the Mslexia Novel Competition 2019. It is the first in The House of Atreus trilogy and will be published by Neem Tree Press in June 2023.

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