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Reviewed by Lily Webster, English/Media Studies Teacher, Rolleston College
Opening sentence
We are more than our actions,’ said Leto. ‘We are the way we love others, and the way they love us back. Gods feed on the terror of mortals,’ said Melantho.
In Lies We Sing to the Sea, Sarah Underwood creates a magical narrative that unpacks the meaning of love and friendship. Underwood’s fantasy novel adds a queer twist to a lesser-known story from the Greek classic Homer’s Odyssey: “It all began with a queen. Her name was Penelope, wife of Odysseus, and she had twelve maids.”

Underwood’s debut novel, Lies We Sing to the Sea, engages readers with its immersive characterisation and fantastical plotline. The story is set in the land of Ithaca, which has been eternally cursed by the god Poseidon. Each year, 12 young girls are sacrificed to please Poseidon and protect the land. The royal family says a prayer and sacrifices the maids into the depths of the sea.

The story follows Leto, one of the chosen sacrifices, as she is reborn, tasked with killing the current crown prince, Prince Mathias, and breaking Poseidon’s age-old curse. One of Poseidon’s original sacrificial maids, Melantho, discovers that Leto’s life has been spared and together they set off to break the curse. Underwood beautifully intertwines the lives of Melantho, Leto, and Prince Mathias through this epic queer adventure.

Lies We Sing to the Sea is the perfect novel for readers who enjoy Greek mythology, magnetic character relationships, enchanting narration, and the fantasy genre.
Author & Illustrator: Sarah Underwood
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN: 978-0-0085-1808-0
Format: Paperback
Publication: April 2023
Ages: 14-18
Themes: Love, loss, destiny, adventure, LGBTQIA+