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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Blog Tour Review - Clytemnestra's Bind by Susan C Wilson

 Blog Tour Review - Clytemnestra's Bind by Susan C Wilson

The House of Atreus is spiralling into self-destruction—a woman must find a way to break the family curse.

Queen Clytemnestra's world shatters when Agamemnon, a rival to the throne of Mycenae, storms her palace, destroys her family and claims not only the throne but Clytemnestra herself. Tormented by her loss, she vows to do all she can to protect the children born from her unhappy marriage to Agamemnon. But when her husband casts his ruthless gaze towards the wealthy citadel of Troy, his ambitions threaten to once more destroy the family Clytemnestra loves.

From one of Greek mythology's most reviled characters—a woman who challenged the absolute power of men—comes this fiery tale of power, family rivalry and a mother's burning love.

This story is brutal and hard hitting, so much so that at times it can be hard to read. It's a book that shocks and disturbs the reader from the very beginning. There are scenes of horror and brutality and particularly violence against children, but it never felt gratuitous. It felt like it was there for a reason, and not just because it came from the Greek mythology that Clytemnestra's Bind draws upon, but because the actions of the characters have to be seen in the light of that brutality. What we're watching throughout this story is the lasting damage done by that violence. 

There are a few powerful themes running throughout the narrative. One is vengeance. So much of the action and the story are driven by the characters' need for revenge. What I found fascinating about this was the way it was presented for Clytemnestra. For most of the characters, revenge is something they're obliged to seek to please the gods. The gods demand blood for blood, and there is an obligation on surviving family members to avenge their dead kin. It's different for Clytemnestra though. For her, the revenge she seeks isn't to satisfy the gods but to satisfy herself. Then as her circumstances change, so does her outlook, as protecting her new family becomes more important than avenging her old family. These competing priorities are fascinating to watch play out in her, as she feels the push and pull of different pressures, but always motivated by her family, and not the gods.

The gods do make their presence felt throughout the story too. Different characters feel them in different ways, but they're always powerful, unknowable forces that have to be appeased, but can be bargained with in different ways. I thought the Greek theology came across really well throughout. The gods are scary and fickle, but how much of that is people using them to justify their cruelty is left up to the reader to decide.

There are themes there too of motherhood, and of the different expectations and obligations placed upon a woman than a man. For all of her skill in negotiation and politics, Clytemnestra is expected to have no involvement in ruling with Agamemnon, and he is very clear that her place is raising their daughters. This is in sharp contrast to some of the other men in her life. And her ideas about motherhood, often in sharp contrast to Agamemnon's, are a powerful driving force for her. As well as the gender divide, there are also divides explored between rich and poor, and how much this impacts on the different genders. A poor woman is seen repeatedly, seeking help, and her powerlessness in some ways reflects that of Clytemnestra's, but in other ways she serves to show how much more power the queen has in comparison to a peasant. Clytemnestra sees similarities between them, however different their relative positions are. 

The story ends at a very exciting point. Students of Greek mythology may know what is coming next, and it feels like there's potential for a lot more in this series.

Clytemnestra's Bind is a powerful, thoughtful and harrowing depiction of a really intriguing figure from Greek mythology, helping us to see her motivations and see her in something of a sympathetic light. It is brutal, heart breaking at times, but all the better for that.


Clytemnestra's Bind by Susan C Wilson is out now, from Neem Tree Press.

I was given a review copy in exchange for this honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour.


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