ARC Review: WRATH GODDESS SING by Maya Deane (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: June 7th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: Vomiting, gore, bloodshed, death by drowning, dismemberment, death in childbirth, misgendering, deadnaming, slavery, pregnancy

The Iliad with a trans lens. Achilles is a trans woman living on Skyros with women just like her when Odysseus comes searching for him to partake in a war to retrieve Helen from the Hittites. Instead of fighting as a man, Athena intervenes and gives her the body of a woman, and she goes off to war.

Drenched in glory and war-time gore, there is also a surprising amount of love and beauty to be found in this modern retelling.

An interview with the author will be posted on June 7th, 2022 (release day!).

I’m going to start off by saying that my knowledge of The Iliad extends about as far as the movie Troy goes and what scant memories I have of that hyper-fixation from when I was a child. That being said, I can barely comment on the accuracy of this retelling, though the one thing I will definitely say is that the events take place over the months of a pregnancy rather than years upon years.

The prose, however, flows like an epic story. It’s very readable with a rhythm that adds a lyricism to each scene, whether it’s quiet conversations, dream sequences with gods, or thundering battles. It’s cinematic in its presentation. It’s also video game like in the best way with some dungeon crawling for weapons that can take down the source of the war—Queen Helen herself. I found myself enveloped in the atmosphere and the trip of each evolving sequence.

I loved Achilles as a narrator. She’s so multi-faceted, equal parts ferocious and tender, arrogant and caring, and more dualities. Deane really leans into Achilles’ mythic arrogance. She’s a fierce fighter with a track record to prove it, but also told repeatedly that she’s the child of gods. There were moments when I wanted to smack her for going a little too far, but it’s still very fun to watch unfold. This book also fucks, especially as Achilles goes so far to claim King Agamemnon as her lover. Does this happen in the original work? Probably not, but it works really well for the greater scope of the warrior woman’s character arc.

The coolest and most thoughtful aspect of this epic is how it acknowledges the many ways one can be a woman, both cis and trans. We have the warrior in Achilles, the priestess in Damia and Iphianassa, the sorceress in Helen, goddess Athena, and the nerdy ethnographer in Meryapi. There’s respect and admiration across each interaction, and even in the narration. Though each woman served a role in Achilles’ story, she wasn’t reserved for that role. There is such dimensionality to all of them. My personal favorite is Meryapi and every scene she is in. They are fun, but, more importantly, add dimensionality to the vision of ancient Greece painted by Deane. There’s so much complexity, it borders on heartwarming.

This book also confirms one more thing: dolphins are cheeky, awful bastards.

2 thoughts on “ARC Review: WRATH GODDESS SING by Maya Deane (2022)

  1. Pingback: Author to Author with Maya Deane (Wrath Goddess Sing) | Jo Writes Fantasy

  2. Pingback: June 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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