Beyond Ithaca’s shores, the whims of gods dictate the wars of men. But on the isle, it is the choices of the abandoned women—and their goddesses—that will change the course of the world.

From the multi-award-winning author Claire North comes a daring reimagining that breathes life into ancient myth and gives voice to the women who stand defiant in a world ruled by ruthless men. It’s time for the women of Ithaca to tell their tale . . . .

Seventeen years ago, King Odysseus sailed to war with Troy, taking with him every man of fighting age from the island of Ithaca. None of them has returned, and the women of Ithaca have been left behind to run the kingdom.

Penelope was barely into womanhood when she wed Odysseus. While he lived, her position was secure. But now, years on, speculation is mounting that her husband is dead, and suitors are beginning to knock at her door.

No one man is strong enough to claim Odysseus’ empty throne—not yet. But everyone waits for the balance of power to tip, and Penelope knows that any choice she makes could plunge Ithaca into bloody civil war. Only through cunning, wit, and her trusted circle of maids, can she maintain the tenuous peace needed for the kingdom to survive. This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before. Beyond Ithaca’s shores, the whims of gods dictate the wars of men. But on the isle, it is the choices of the abandoned women—and their goddesses— that will change the course of the world.

Don't just take our word for it...

“A dazzlingly complex, twisting tale….Claire North breathes life into a cast of mythical characters from goddesses to queens to slave-women in a richly nuanced portrayal of human life.”
– Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne

“Richly poetic….An impassioned plea for the lost, disenfranchised queens of ancient Greece, a love letter to the silenced women of history who had to hide their pain behind their eyes and their skills, capabilities, and power behind false incompetence and ignorance.”
– Booklist

“Like Penelope at her loom, North weaves and unweaves, teasing out the threads of Homeric myth to recombine them into something unique, wonderful, and urgently contemporary.”
– M. R. Carey, author of The Girl With All the Gifts

Taste the very first page

Teodora is not the first to see the raiders, but she is the first to run.

They come from the north, by the light of the full moon. They do not burn any lanterns on their decks, but skim across the ocean like tears down a mirror. There are three ships, carrying some thirty men apiece, coils of rope set by the prow to bind their slaves; oars barely tugging the sea as the wind carries them to shore. They give no cries of war, beat no drums nor blow trumpets of brass or bone. Their sails are plain and patched, and had I power over the stars I would have willed them shine a little brighter, that the heavens might be eclipsed by the darkness of the ships as they obstructed the horizon. But the stars are not my domain, nor do I usually pay much attention to the dealings of little people in their sleepy villages by the sea, save when there is some great matter afoot that might be turned by a wily hand – or when my husband has strayed too far from home.

It is therefore without celestial intervention that Teodora, lips inclining towards those of her may-be lover, thinks she catches sight of something strange upon the sea. The few fisherwomen who ride the night are all known to her and their prows are nothing like the shapes she glimpses in the corner of her eye…