Fantasy

Daughter of Sparta: An Empowering, Female-Led Retelling of ‘Daphne & Apollo’

*I received a free finished copy of this book from the publisher. These are my personal, honest opinions. Thank you.*

4/5 Stars

Author: Claire M. Andrews

Publisher/Imprint: Jimmy Patterson Books

Edition: Hardcover, 375 Pages

Publication Date: June 08, 2021

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!

Book Synopsis

Sparta forged her into a deadly weapon. Now the Gods need her to save the world!

Seventeen-year-old Daphne has spent her entire life honing her body and mind into that of a warrior, hoping to be accepted by the unyielding people of ancient Sparta. But an unexpected encounter with the goddess Artemis—who holds Daphne’s brother’s fate in her hands—upends the life she’s worked so hard to build. Nine mysterious items have been stolen from Mount Olympus and if Daphne cannot find them, the gods’ waning powers will fade away, the mortal world will descend into chaos, and her brother’s life will be forfeit.

Guided by Artemis’s twin-the handsome and entirely-too-self-assured god Apollo-Daphne’s journey will take her from the labyrinth of the Minotaur to the riddle-spinning Sphinx of Thebes, team her up with mythological legends such as Theseus and Hippolyta of the Amazons, and pither against the gods themselves.

A reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, Daughter of Sparta by debut author Claire Andrews turns the traditionally male-dominated mythology we know into a heart-pounding and empowering female-led adventure.

Book Review

For Sparta. For my family. For my honor.

-Claire M. Andrews, Daughter of Sparta

Initial Thoughts

Hello, everyone! Are you ready for the weekend? What will you be reading this weekend? This week, I finished reading Daughter of Sparta. I’ve really been enjoying the different Greek mythology retellings that have been releasing this year! Daughter of Sparta retells ‘Daphne and Apollo,’ but it is quite different from the original myth, which does NOT have a happy ending for Daphne. I liked this alternate version a lot, so let’s jump into my initial thoughts.

  • There is so much to appreciate about this book! Daphne has much more agency over her actions in this retelling.
  • In this book, you’ll find human-to-animal transformations, magical objects, angry gods, rescue attempts, the crashing of a royal banquet, and more!
  • I also loved seeing the blending of other Greek myths that the author weaves into this story. You’ll recognize many famous faces such as Theseus, the Minotaur, King Minos, Hippolyta, the Sphinx of Thebes, and many more gods and goddesses.
  • I thought it was especially fascinating to read the section that takes place in the Greek underworld. I haven’t seen much of that in YA literature before.
  • The pacing sometimes felt a little unbalanced, with some scenes being disproportionately short compared to other sections of the book. I felt that some of Daphne’s challenges could’ve been given more page time than they received.
  • But there is a good amount of action in this book, and I certainly enjoyed the excitement of those scenes!

‘You are a gift to this world, my kataigida,’ he says. ‘A storm, calamitous and powerful. You take root where you want to, listen to no voice of command but your own.’

-Claire M. Andrews, Daughter of Sparta

Characters & Romance

Close-up of a Greek dish hand painted with Dionysus on it, next to a notebook and the hardcover edition of Daughter of Sparta.
Close-up of a Greek dish hand painted with Dionysus on it, next to a notebook and the hardcover edition of Daughter of Sparta.

Here is a brief overview of the characters and romance:

  • Daphne is the main heroine of this story. I liked Daphne’s spirit and loyalty to her family and country. She is tasked with finding nine items that were stolen from Olympus. If she fails, the powers of the gods will disappear, and the mortal world would be thrown into chaos! She never gives up and perseveres even when the road gets tough.
  • Apollo joins Daphne on her quest in an attempt to right a mistake he made. This Apollo felt much more human, not like some distant, untouchable god from Olympus. In fact, he is in danger of becoming mortal if he and Daphne don’t retrieve what was stolen from Olympus.
  • Lykou is Daphne’s friend from Sparta who journeys with her in wolf form. I found their wolf-human interactions to be interesting, and I admired his loyalty to her – even as he struggled to prevent the wolf nature from taking over him.
  • The romance does NOT take center stage in this book. This is not a romance book. The romance is there, but I think I was really expecting more of it. But there are definitely a few romantic moments sprinkled throughout, and I did enjoy the banter when it was there! I’m hoping there will be more in the sequel.

‘I make my own destiny,’ I say.

-Claire M. Andrews, Daughter of Sparta

Final Thoughts

Flatlay of Daughter of Sparta on top of a notebook betweek a Greek painted dish and a teapot and wolf dish on the other side.
Flatlay of Daughter of Sparta on top of a notebook betweek a Greek painted dish and a teapot and wolf dish on the other side.

Here are few more thoughts I wanted to point out:

  • Sometimes, I felt information is withheld from the reader for a little too long. By the end, I was getting annoyed by how many times people refused to tell Daphne who her true father is.
  • I had also wondered, if some of the gods on Olympus already knew which “items” had been stolen from Olympus, why didn’t they just tell Daphne what the items were from the very beginning?
  • The motivations for one of the “villains” involved also didn’t quite hold enough weight in my opinion; it didn’t make sense to me that he would be willing to participate in a plot that would destroy his own immense powers. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.
  • By the end, there are several questions left unanswered. There’s one question in particular that I really would’ve liked to know the answer to by the end of book one, but I suppose it’s going to have to wait until book two.

This book didn’t quite have what I call the 5-star oomph factor, but it was still a solid 4-star read for me! Overall, I quite enjoyed reading this, and I definitely intend to read the sequel Blood of Troy! If you’re a fan of Greek mythology, I definitely recommend this one. Happy reading 🙂

*Content Warnings: Fantasy violence throughout (some graphic); torture with a branding iron; some kissing; at least 1 use of the s-word.*

Copyright © 2021 by Spines that Shine (Caitlin Shaffer)

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Up Next on My TBR: Six Crimson Cranes (ARC)

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