Lies We Sing to the Sea

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Release Date: 
March 7, 2023
Reviewed by: 

An enchanting, compelling, and deliciously tragic addition to the Odysseus lore . . .”

Following up on the mythology of the 12 maids killed by Odysseus and Telemachus, Lies We Sing to the Sea visits the land of Ithaca several centuries later. Twelve maids are still being sacrificed every year to Poseidon, and the kingdom of Ithaca is bankrupt and in ruins. The curse must be broken.

Three fine contenders emerge, all after the same goal, all with very different paths. The first, Leto, is the daughter of an oracle and one of the girls marked for this year’s sacrifice. The second, Melantho, is a previously sacrificed girl who has been kept alive by Poseidon for reasons unknown. The third is Crown Prince Mathias of Ithaca, whose sister was a previous sacrifice. The rules for breaking the curse are simple—Prince Mathias must die. The actual mechanics of said death are more nuanced, and complicated by the fact that Leto and Melantho are both technically dead and no longer human. Leto has also stolen the identity of Mathias’ betrothed in order to get closer to him, but Mathias’ mother very much would like said princess to disappear. It’s also very hard to kill a boy you’re falling in love with.

The three main characters are rich and distinct and make a very dynamic love triangle. The main character, Leto, drives most of the narrative and it is her choices and mistakes, passion and memory, that compel the reader forward.

‘”I won’t be her maid,” said Leto, and her fingers tightened over Melantho’s. “A maid can only get so close to a prince. No, I won’t serve the princess.”

She smiled. She was extraordinarily lovely. “I’m going to take her place.”

“And then seduce the prince?”

Leto let go of Melantho’s hands abruptly. “What is your obsession with seduction?”

“What else could you do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. How about stab him?”’

While the novel is technically Odysseus fan fiction, it is no way written in an inaccessible manner. Younger readers will delight in the fresh mythology and modern prose, and the Greek sensibilities on homosexuality will resonate with likeminded readers.

“It was like that sometimes. Melantho’s hand would linger on her shoulder or their hips would brush together as they walked, and Leto’s soul would sing. It knew that Melantho was the key to her future, perhaps. That Leto’s legacy would be entwined forever with whispers of a girl with golden hair and freckles that covered every inch of her olive skin.

Well, not every inch, perhaps. Leto hadn’t exactly checked.”

Hesitant Young Adult readers will also find comfort in the more popular romance tropes Stolen Identity and Just One Bed. More mature readers will easily find the humor in some of the sexual exploits, particularly Leto and Melantho on the beach.

“A beach, upon reflection, might not have been the best choice of location for amorous happenings. There was sand in Leto’s hair, under her fingernails, in between her toes, and most uncomfortably—

“There is sand inside me,” deadpanned Melantho. “I have endured it tolerable thus far, but it is migrating to areas I have to deem unacceptable.”

An enchanting, compelling, and deliciously tragic addition to the Odysseus lore, Lies We Sing to the Sea will appeal to seasoned readers of sapphic YA, as well as younger readers looking to expand into the speculative fiction arena. A definitive highlight of sapphic fiction in 2023.