the cover for Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 432 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: March 7, 2023
  • PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Rape, Suicide, Death
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Circe by Madeline Miller, Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperTeen for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Each spring, Ithaca condemns twelve maidens to the noose. This is the price vengeful Poseidon demands for the lives of Queen Penelope’s twelve maids, hanged and cast into the depths centuries ago.

But when that fate comes for Leto, death is not what she thought it would be. Instead, she wakes on a mysterious island and meets a girl with green eyes and the power to command the sea. A girl named Melantho, who says one more death can stop a thousand.

The prince of Ithaca must die—or the tides of fate will drown them all.

When I requested this book on Netgalley, I didn’t know that there was any sort of controversy about the author. I just thought the synopsis sounded interesting, and, well, I love a mythology retelling. Then I went looking on Goodreads for other reviews — I usually do this before diving into an ARC. I don’t really read any of the reviews in detail, but I do check out the star ratings. It’s been a good factor for seeing what I’m getting into — if most people rate it around 3 stars, well, then it’s probably a mediocre book. You see what I mean? Well, when I went to look up Lies We Sing to the Sea, I saw that it had been rated many, many times as 1 star. That’s when I started reading some of the reviews a little more in depth.

Apparently, Sarah Underwood — the author — has never read The Odyssey, yet here she is writing a ‘retelling’ of the same myth. Now — color me confused. How can anyone write a retelling without reading the original myth? That makes absolutely zero sense. She cites such sources as Percy Jackson and other modern retellings as how she’s gotten the story. But uh…I’m going to be truthful with you here — I don’t think I would have requested Lies We Sing to the Sea if I had known this about the author. All of this is really a moot point, because when you get right down to it — Lies We Sing to the Sea is not a retelling of The Odyssey. It takes minor characters from the original myth and weaves a whole story out of them. Odysseus himself is maybe mentioned once or twice but that’s it.

So really, I guess I’m saying is that the fact that Sarah Underwood hasn’t read The Odyssey really isn’t that big of a deal. The story she creates here is a heartbreaking one, but one that was told really well. It doesn’t stand up to other stories that it will be compared to, namely Song of Achilles, but it definitely is inspired by such books. Like without a doubt Sarah wanted to tell a similar story. So yes, for those of you that want to know, Lies We Sing to the Sea has a tragic ending. It is a sapphic love story that does not end well. Is that spoiling things? I don’t think so, because this is written in the manner of Greek Tragedies so anyone expecting a happy ending should really know better. Either way, the story was told well, but I did miss the atmospheric, poetic descriptions of Madeline Miller. Lies We Sing to the Sea is told much more simply — possibly because this is, in fact, a YA novel?

Who knows.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but I can’t see myself picking it up again. I’m not really one for tragic endings, despite loving Greek myths. What it really boils down to is that if you like Greek myths, and know what to expect from them, then well, you’ll probably enjoy this.

LIES WE SING TO THE SEA comes out MARCH 7, 2023.

Add to your Goodreads, or preorder at at the following links:




  1. Great review, Jordyn! I think I have this coming up in one of my sub boxes & wasn’t sure what it would be like with all the controversy surrounding it. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, even if you wouldn’t read again 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember when this controversy blew up on Twitter. I can’t say I’m surprised it was blown out of proportion. These types of situations often are, which is why I don’t usually jump into that type of discourse. I’ll be getting this in a sub box soon and plan to read it. I do really love Greek myth and tragedy. So, I’m sure I’ll probably like it.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s