Charlotte Higgins has embraced a central metaphor—weaving—that leads us through the labyrinth of interconnected stories in a startlingly fresh way. It throws radiant new light on their meanings. Although her chief model is Ovid’s phantasmagoric mythological compendium in his Metamorphoses, her voice is quite different—more tender and pensive—and she uses her considerable scholarly skills to mine many other ancient sources, rescuing some little-known stories from obscurity ... The importance of visualisation to the enjoyment of this book, a beautiful artefact in itself, is subtly indicated by prompts to the mind’s eye in the form of Chris Ofili’s exquisite line drawings on the dustjacket and at the opening of each chapter, and by the colour scheme ... The book would make a perfect introduction to the entrancing world of Greek myth for any secondary school student. Its thoughtful introduction, ample notes pointing to the ancient sources, bibliography of accessible further reading, maps, genealogies and glossary make it a useful resource for far more advanced adult readers. And Higgins’s simple yet sonorous style contains treats even for those lucky enough, like her, to have read her ancient sources in the original languages.
... erudite and exhilerating ... Gusseted with a map, family trees, notes and glossaries, this feminist corrective oddly recalls the kind of old-fashioned mythological compendia that Higgins grew up with ... Higgins’s own volume is illustrated by the Turner prize-winning Chris Ofili, whose drawings are charming and airy, suggestive in spirit of Matisse’s pencil sketches. While they undoubtedly beautify an already alluring object, the deeper Higgins leads the reader into her forest of tales, the less necessary they feel.
Charlotte Higgins demonstrates again why the Greek variety have never lessened their grip on the western imagination ... We are in the hands of a fine, fluent storyteller (‘Are you ready? Then follow me’), who is properly attuned to what characters look like ... Throughout, Higgins deploys direct speech and rhetorical devices such as alliteration and repetition with a light touch ... The use of the vernacular is judicious and entertaining ... Source material does not slow the narrative energy ... Higgins, like the bards who first unspooled these tales, creates the illusion of spontaneity (‘And now what?’) and handles suspense brilliantly ... I loved this book.
... a thick forest of stories in a book that deserves its own very long life. Because her aim is to highlight the heroines rather than the heroes, it will stand in future, like all retellings of myth, as revelatory not just of the mists in which recorded time began but of its own time. Her technique is ingenious ... Higgins creates her own finest tapestries from those within the strands of the myths themselves ... This is a beautifully produced book, with sinuous fine-lined illustrations by Chris Ofili. Higgins is journalistic but scholarly.
...[a] scholarly, capacious reimagining whose reach stretches from Troy to the Titans and seemingly everywhere in between ... Her book—which shares a spiritual and academic affinity with the non-fiction work Pandora’s Jar by Haynes—not only provides extensive sources but sometimes challenges them. Like Haynes, she wags her finger at the poet Hesiod for inventing the misogynistic story of Pandora and her now famous box of disaster ... Higgins keeps the storytelling largely ticking along, while offering the occasional nifty comment on female narrative agency. She is skilled at combining interpretive emphasis with tonal neutrality too, so much so that when an authorial voice occasionally pokes through, it jars ... Mainly, though, Higgins makes you feel for these tormented, accursed mortals afresh.
Higgins invests the tales with surprising new meanings. The fabulous ancient tales in this collection unfold as images that skilled female artisans weave into the tapestries they are crafting on their looms. Readers will marvel...tremble ... Ancient myths here acquire compelling modern form.
... a luminous collection ... While unseasoned mythology readers will have a tough time keeping a handle on the myriad deities, mortals, and creatures, Higgins's versions are consistently smart and imaginative. This makes for a provocative and alluring reanimation of the classics.