Lies We Sing to the Sea

HarperTeen. Mar. 2023. 432p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063234475.
Gr 9 Up–This novel expands on the story from the Odyssey in which Odysseus and Telemachus kill Queen Penelope’s 12 maids. Centuries later, Ithaca must sacrifice 12 girls every spring to Poseidon or be destroyed—a curse placed on Ithaca for the actions against the maids. When Leto, daughter of a royal oracle, is sent to be hanged with the other 11, she wakes up very much alive in a mysterious place called Pandou. There she meets Melantho, another girl like her, who was brought back by Poseidon with the chance of breaking the curse. Those who are saved come back changed, with the ability to transform into sea creatures. There have been others, but only Melantho remains—and Leto is the last. In order to break the curse, they must kill Mathias, the Prince of Ithaca. Mathias has lost a sister to Poseidon and wants nothing more than to break the curse himself. The novel alternates among Leto’s, Melantho’s, and Mathias’s points of view. While not a full retelling of the Odyssey itself, Underwood’s novel gives a new voice to the 12 maids and their legacy in her debut. There are clear romantic feelings between Leto and Melantho that build through the novel, as well as hints of romance between Leto and Mathias. Themes of love, betrayal, hope, and loss permeate the pages.
VERDICT As expected with a tragedy, love does not always ensure a happy ending, but readers will be invested in the story and characters regardless. Recommended for most teen collections, especially where Greek mythology-inspired fiction is popular.

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