Review: Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood

Posted April 17, 2023 by Stephanie in 3.5 stars, Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Review, Young Adult / 8 Comments

Title: Lies We Sing to the Sea
Author: Sarah Underwood
Publication: March 16, 2023 by Electric Monkey
Genre: Fantasy, Greek Mythology, Young Adult
Find it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | Waterstones
Rating: 3.5/5★

A fantasy romance, by dazzling new talent Sarah Underwood, inspired by Greek mythology and the tale of Penelope’s twelve hanged maids.

‘A lavish epic of power, vengeance, love and fate.’
YA Book of the Month in The Observer (2/4/2023)

’A lovely, lyrical fantasy which takes the fate of the hanged maids of the Odyssey and weaves something brand new. A story overflowing with emotion and full of magic.’
Jennifer Saint, bestselling author of Ariadne and Elektra

In the cursed kingdom of Ithaca, each spring brings the hanging of twelve maidens, a gift to the vengeful Poseidon. But when Leto awakens from her death on the shore of a long-forgotten island, its enigmatic keeper Melantho tells her that there’s only one way the curse can be broken. Leto must kill the last prince of Ithaca . . .

In Lies We Sing to the Sea, debut author Sarah Underwood delivers a thrilling and breathtaking tale that will enthral readers from the very first page as they are transported to the cursed shores of Ithaca.

A reclamation of a story from thousands of years ago, Lies We Sing to the Sea is about love and fate, grief and sacrifice, and, ultimately, the power we must find within.

‘Gorgeous, tragic, and timeless, Underwood’s LIES WE SING TO THE SEA makes an age-old story feel new again. This is Greek tragedy at its best: sweeping in scope yet deeply intimate in characterization. This book will break your heart.’ – Grace Li Sunday Times bestselling author of Portrait of a Thief


“Gods feed on the terror of mortals,” said Melantho. “Where there is no fear, there are no prayers. But you are right. That is not all. Poseidon hoped to turn the people of Ithaca against their king. Twelve of their women would be killed each year—and the king himself would be forced to command it—or the sea would ride up to drown them. Only one way to end it all.” She looked up, then, straight into Leto’s eyes, begging her to stay calm, to understand.
“We need to kill the prince of Ithaca.”

Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood is a Greek mythology reimagining of Penelope’s twelve hanged maids from Homer’s Odyssey. It’s a tragic story but so beautifully written and very emotionally charged.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this a retelling of The Odyssey but rather a continuation set hundreds of years after that. We’re in the kingdom of Ithaca where every year twelve maidens are being sacrificed to Poseidon. If this doesn’t happen, the sea takes them and whoever or whatever stands in the way. The only way to break this curse is for Leto, with Melantho’s help, to kill the prince of Ithaca.

I can’t say this was the best Greek mythology related book I’ve ever read but I did honestly enjoy it and it was a pretty quick read so it had a lot of good things going for it. The story certainly had its flaws but it was all worth it for that heart-wrenching ending and the sapphic characters that I ended up loving.

This is a young adult book so it wasn’t overly explicit in any way but I would want to put some trigger warnings of sexual assault, murder, blood and more. There’s also a very mild love triangle involved, although (as someone who isn’t a fan of those) I didn’t mind it that much in this book.


About the author:

Sarah Underwood grew up by the sea in Devon, England. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, but only turned her attention to novels recently. She wrote the first draft of Lies We Sing to the Sea in 2020, during the first Covid-19 lockdowns, having been sent home from her third year at University. She sold it one day before handing in her fourth-year dissertation.

Sarah obtained her MEng in Computational Bioengineering at Imperial College, London, and recently graduated with her MPhil in Population Health Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Lies We Sing to the Sea is her first novel.

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8 responses to “Review: Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood

  1. Verushka

    That is a gorgeous cover isn’t it? I was surprised when I read this was a YA retelling of such a story.

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