Book Review: Ithaca (The Songs of Penelope #1) by Claire North

“Athena watches from the shore. Artemis prowls in the forest. And in the belly of the earth, the Furies are stirring.”

Published in 2022 and the first book in The Songs of Penelope series, Ithaca by Claire North follows the story of Penelope who was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But then King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca were left behind to run the kingdom.

Now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door. No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne β€” not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into a bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive.


After reading and loving A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes last year, I immediately wanted to read more about Penelope. And then Ithaca came along!

Unfortunately, Ithaca is about a completely different period in her life. While A Thousand Ships saw her yearning for her husband to return from the Trojan war, North picks up eighteen years after the war began, when Odysseus is presumed dead.

It took me a while to get my head around the different mindset that Penelople’s character is in here, as I was eager to be drawn in by her emotional story again. Instead, she is showing her strengths in this book. She has a city to defend, a throne to retain, and a family to protect.

Narrated by Hera, it took me a while to understand how this narrative worked and I was unsure if it added anything to the story. But it’s not often we get to see this side of her, so I liked how her perspective showcased the empowerment of the women involved and it certainly added a unique twist to the story.

The story is a little slow-paced at the start but it soon grabbed my attention. The relationship between Penelope and Elektra is a very interesting one and it added a lot to my ever-growing knowledge of Greek mythology, so I definitely think that it’s a book worth reading if you have an interest in these stories.

I’m definitely interested to see where the next book goes, anyway, as I don’t think I’ve heard much about the events that follow so I’m already very intrigued!


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