Deane’s tour de force debut gives The Iliad the beating heart of a legendary warrior. Alaksandu the Hittite prince has stolen Helen, the wife of King Menelaos, using magic, and it’s prophesied that only Achilles, the transgender demigod daughter of Athena, can defeat him. But Achilles is hiding on Skyros, transitioning using herbal medicines, and doesn’t want to abandon her only chance at staving off her natural puberty. To convince her to go with King Agamemnon to win Helen back, Athena comes to Achilles and grants her the body she’s always prayed for. But Helen is more than mortal and certainly not the passive prize the Greeks have painted her. Soon, Achilles is enmeshed in a web of godly plots and counterplots, searching for a set of ancient magical weapons powerful enough to defeat Zeus himself before he can wipe the world clean. Deane’s narrative soars: epic in scope without ever growing tedious, with a huge supporting cast (including many wonderful LGBTQ characters) that readers will have no trouble keeping straight due to their beautifully shaded personalities. Add in massive battle scenes, meddling gods, and all the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, and the result brings the familiar story to fresh, vivid, and unforgettable new life. Agent: Jason Yarn, Jason Yarn Literary. (June)
This is a beautiful, bloody, glorious, revelation of a book… the mold-breaking trans epic I didn't even know I was craving.
"A bold, shining tapestry, weaving a bloody tale of war, birthright, and divinity with a tender story of longing, identity, and love. Epic and triumphant."
"Groundbreaking, heart-wrenching, and devastatingly smart, WRATH GODDESS SING is a triumph. In Achilles, Maya Deane has truly given us a heroine for the ages."
A magnificently wild ride from beginning to end. As fierce in friendship as it is in love and war, this is the Iliad taken into the stratosphere—no longer merely epic, but cosmic. I can’t stop thinking about it!
"Wrath Goddess Sing is literary fantasy at its finest."
The Edgar-nominated Bayard follows up Courting Mr. Lincoln with Jackie & Me, which reimagines Jacqueline Bouvier meeting Jack Kennedy and, as they approach marriage, slowly realizing that she's being polished as the perfect political wife. The New York Times best-selling, multi-award-winning Belfer introduces us to disappointed academic Hannah Larson, who travels to historic Ashton Hall to tend a relative and begins reconstructing events there during the Elizabethan era after her neurodivegent young son, Nicky, discovers a skeleton in the walls. Drawing on ancient texts and modern archaeology to unearth a trans woman's story beneath The Iliad, Deane's Wrath Goddess Sing reveals an Achilles living as a woman with the transgender priestesses of Great Mother Aphrodite and refusing Odysseus's call to fight until given the body of a woman by Athena and heading into battle to confront an immortal, viciously implacable Helen. From Ford, the author of the mega-best-selling Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Many Daughters of Afong May tells the story of Dorothy Moy, who turns her often painful dissociative mental-health crises into art; when her daughter begins revealing similar tendencies, Dorothy seeks to waylay the consequences of inherited trauma by engaging in a radical therapy that connects her with brave women ancestors (125,000-copy first printing). In debuter Pook's Moonlight and the Pearler's Daughter, set in late 1800s Australia, young Englishwoman Eliza Brightwell sets off to find her eccentric father when the pearl-fishing boat he captains returns to port without him (60,000-copy first printing). In Pulley's Cold War-set The Half-Life of Valery K, when former nuclear specialist Valery Kolkhanov is removed from the Gulag and asked to study the effects of radiation in a mysterious town housing nuclear reactors, he's truly worried about how much radiation there is (60,000-copy first printing). In New York Times best-selling author Rimmer's latest, The German Wife of a Nazi scientist pardoned and put to work in the start-up U.S. space program doesn't feel at home among the other NASA wives and confides her husband's SS past to exactly the wrong person (200,000-copy paperback and 10,000-copy hardcover first printing).
A retelling of the Iliad featuring an Achilles who's a trans woman.
Finding an elasticity in the story of the Iliad, Deane pits Achilles against Helen of Troy in the Trojan War. The book begins with Achilles hiding in Skyros with the princess Deidamia. Under Deidamia’s tutelage, and using special herbs, Achilles is transitioning from a male body to her true female self. Athena intervenes and transforms Achilles completely into her ideal female body so she can feel fulfilled in her real identity. Athena also grants Achilles' greatest desire—to have a child—by forging a womb in her center. The book holds close to the story of the Iliad in broad strokes but attempts to deliver a parallel journey for Achilles as she transitions and then explores the world of war while questioning what it means to be a woman and a man. Achilles thinks, “Once, her violent impulses had horrified her, evidence of a manhood that would inevitably consume everything she loved about herself. But on her journey to Skyros and here on the island, she had met her share of violent women and knew better.” Despite knowing better, when Achilles arrives at the battlefield and attempts to rescue Helen, she's caught off guard by the realization that Helen is not a damsel in distress but a megalomaniac, thrilled by her effect on the armies who fight one another with her name on their lips. Helen does not desire a quick end to war. She is also vicious about Achilles’ identity, saying, “Here’s an idea: when you die, I will erase you from history. I will make it so you were never a woman. Everyone will remember you as a man.” This book is Achilles’ fevered journey from womanhood to childbirth to death. The premise of the parallel journeys is effectively handled and integrated into the Homeric epic.
This fresh perspective is valuable even if the swashbuckling style of the prose lands a little heavily on the page.
This is a beautiful, bloody, glorious, revelation of a book… the mold-breaking trans epic I didn't even know I was craving.” — Charlie Jane Anders, bestselling author
"Deane’s tour de force debut gives The Iliad the beating heart of a legendary warrior....Deane’s narrative soars: epic in scope without ever growing tedious, with a huge supporting cast (including many wonderful LGBTQ characters) that readers will have no trouble keeping straight due to their beautifully shaded personalities. Add in massive battle scenes, meddling gods, and all the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, and the result brings the familiar story to fresh, vivid, and unforgettable new life." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Beautifully realized … a mythic reinvention for the ages.” — BookPage
“A magnificently wild ride from beginning to end. As fierce in friendship as it is in love and war, this is The Iliad taken into the stratosphere—no longer merely epic, but cosmic. I can’t stop thinking about it!” — Shelley Parker-Chan, bestselling author of She Who Became the Sun
"Groundbreaking, heart-wrenching, and devastatingly smart, Wrath Goddess Sing is a triumph. In Achilles, Maya Deane has truly given us a heroine for the ages." — Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart
"A bold, shining tapestry, weaving a bloody tale of war, birthright, and divinity with a tender story of longing, identity, and love. Epic and triumphant." — Ava Reid, author of The Wolf and the Woodsman
"Wrath Goddess Sing is literary fantasy at its finest." — Alina Boyden, author of Stealing Thunder
"The wine-dark sea takes on extra luminescence in this stunning re-creation of the Fall of Troy. Deane’s Achilles is unforgettable, as are her deep ties to friends and enemies alike. Written in the brilliant tradition of Mary Renault, Wrath Goddess Sing achieves its own epic standing. A tour de force not to be missed. Highly recommended." — Historical Novel Society
"It is, in many ways, a great book, and one that will...start discussions. The writing stands out and draws the reader in, creating a unique book and one I will think about for a long time to come." — Grimdark Magazine
"Deane has gone into the incredibly crowded field of current mythological retellings, and blown them all out of the water by doing something ambitious, powerful, meaningful and different...you can feel the love and the research that has gone into the authenticity, while at the same time the creativity and ambition that has gone into the divergences, all of which come together to form a beautiful, coherent whole." — Nerds of a Feather