REVIEW: Feminism flourishes in modern Greek mythology fantasy story


Fans of fantasy and adventure combined with Greek mythology will find Claire Andrews’ Daughter of Sparta an enticing read, which reimagines the story of Daphne and the Sun God Apollo. However, the novel differs significantly from the classical tale and puts a twist on the traditional portrayal of a male hero in Greek mythology by showcasing an independent, fierce, and quick-witted female lead.
Set in ancient Greece, Daughter of Sparta revolves around 17-year-old Daphne, who, contradicting the title, is a Mothakes, a social class not allowed many of the civil rights as full Spartans. Threatened at first by the mark of Artemis and her brother Pyrrhus, Daphne embarks on a quest with her wolf-turned Spartan friend, Lykou, and the conceited Apollo. In an attempt to retrieve the nine missing Muses, she discovers the greater purpose behind her mission: saving the dwindling powers of Olympus inflicted by Nyx, the goddess of the night. The fast-moving story immerses the reader in the journey that quickly becomes packed with obstacles: centaurs, a minotaur, literal demons and demons of the mind, as well as sibling rivalry.
Daphne’s headstrong nature and Hippolyta’s representation as a warrior woman undoubtedly embodies female empowerment. Equipped with both weapons and knowledge from the stories her handmaid Ligeia regaled her with, Daphne seeks answers about her enigmatic past, making readers equally intrigued. Contributing to the suspense is the unbeknownst identity of Nyx that is hinted upon, Hippolyta’s unpredictable disguise as a mercenary, and Daphne’s questionable fate following her encounter with Nyx.
While providing some form of closure with the ending, unanswered questions remain, including certain characters’ whereabouts and Nyx’s obscured motive. Since the experience is told solely through Daphne’s eyes, we also lose insight on other perceptions of the journey, and the presence of new characters are fleeting.
However, there is still much to appreciate about Daughter of Sparta, especially how Daphne’s journey launches and terminates in the same location, enabling her journey to come full circle as a dynamic character who demonstrates self-acceptance and realizes she is more than a daughter of Sparta, but also the Storm of Olympus.