Hera; a powerful and poignant literary retelling

Can you believe it – I’ve never read any Greek mythology until now? One of my close friends who devours Greek mythology has been telling me for ages that I’ll love this genre. So as soon as I was invited to the blog tour of the new novel from Sunday Times bestselling novelist, Jennifer Saint, I jumped at the chance. I also really liked the idea that Hera is a retelling of Greek mythology’s most famous wife. I love literary retellings.

Okay, I have to admit my ignorance now. Until reading Hera, my knowledge of the Greek Gods was pretty limited. And dare I further admit – I had never actually heard of Hera who is often depicted as the jealous wife of Zeus before reading this powerful novel. Due to my ignorance I did find myself sometimes googling the Greek Gods and Greek mythology as I read. However it didn’t put me off in any way. In actual fact it fuelled my curiosity, especially as Hera is such a powerful character driven novel that explores all aspects of Goddess’s complex nature – her pride, her compassion, her tenacity, her fury and her all consuming need for vengeance. Saint’s narrative also poignantly reveals Hera’s shame, which I found really powerful and emotional:

Jennifer Saint

This emotion – the one that crawls across her skin – is new. It is a stinging tide seeping through her body, a slow and painful burn. Shame.

Following her brother Zeus betraying her after she helps him overthrow the tyrannical rule of their father, Titan Cronos, the King of the Titans, Hera is determined to have her freedom. But then Zeus, in his ruthless want for power, coerces Hera into marriage with him. Although she is now Queen of the Olympians, this further atrocity against Hera leaves her with shame, which she swallows. Yet the shame simmers inside her and transforms into vengeance. She is determined to overthrow her brother come husband, just as they did their father. And she will do it at whatever cost.

The plot follows Hera and Zeus’s marriage which is an illuminating power struggle full of deceit, humiliation and retribution. Both feel it is their divine right to rule. It is very clear throughout the narrative that Hera revels in ‘the teeming, plotting world of the immortals‘ which she can ‘observe from above.’

In her pursuit for revenge against Zeus, she is maybe misunderstood. I am still undecided about this as there are aspects of Hera’s character that really make me feel and empathise with her, as well as like her. For example, her love for her monster son Typhon and her monster grandchildren. However I really struggle with her treatment of another of her sons, Hephaestus, who is not perfect as an Olympian God should be, and desperate for his mother’s acceptance and love. And like her husband, Hera can be cruel and violent.

Even though I have still not made my mind up about Hera (I am still mulling her over in my mind), I thoroughly enjoyed this literary retelling as it is so thought-provoking, and does not shy away from the ugly aspects of the Goddess’s character. Rather it offers an intriguing alternative explanation for readers to consider, which for me stirred some feelings of compassion for Hera.

Hera was published on 23 May 2024 by Wildfire, so is available now to read.

Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Books for inviting me to the blog tour of this powerful, thought-provoking novel which I can’t stop thinking about. Thank you also to Wildfire and NetGalley for my advance digital copy.

To follow the blog tour, please see below.

1 Comment

  1. May 29, 2024 / 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the blog tour support x

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