***** - Herc
HERC PHOENICIA ROGERSON *****
This should be the story of Hercules: his twelve labours, his endless adventures…everyone’s favourite hero, right?
Well, it’s not.
This is the story of everyone else:
Alcmene: Herc’s mother (She has knives everywhere)
Hylas: Herc’s first friend (They were more than friends)
Megara: Herc’s wife (She’ll tell you about their marriage)
Eurystheus: Oversaw Herc’s labours (He never asked for the job)
His friends, his enemies, his wives, his children, his lovers, his rivals, his gods, his victims.
It’s time to hear their stories.
Told with humour and heart, Herc gives voice to the silenced characters, in this feminist, queer (and sometimes shocking) retelling of classic Hercules myth.
MY REVIEW *****
I must admit that my knowledge of Greek myths, particularly Hercules peaked in primary school and was only really strengthened later in life by the Disney movie. When I read the blurb for Herc – a retelling of Hercules’ story from the perspective of the friends, family and enemies in his life, I was instantly intrigued.
What a story it is – and much less PG than Disney would have you believe! There was a lot about the crazy story of Herc that had been left out of my primary school education and perhaps for good reason. I think going into this mostly without context is a great way to read it as I honestly didn’t know where the story was going to go or what madcap adventure would be next. I’d heard of Theseus and the Minotaur, the Hydra and Jason and the Argonauts who turn up in the book but I had no idea of his Godly curse, what actually happened to his wife Megara or the cross-dressing Queen Omphale.
The chapters alternate between a wide range of characters who interacted with Hercules throughout his life, some just as a one-off to further the story, some as reoccurring characters who usually come back a few times before encountering their deaths. This was a really refreshing narrative device and really kept the pace high and was in part sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-breaking. Occasionally these narratives would sound a little samey - they didn’t all have a distinctive voice and some of the expressions they used were quite modern, but to be honest, I didn’t really mind. Keeping them all in your head got quite difficult as you got further into the book (something the author agrees with in her notes!). There’s a bias on the queer side of Hercules’ relationships although it is said that he had ‘male lovers beyond counting’. These characters in particular all meet quite a sad end, and it was so fascinating to paint Hercules, not as a hero, but a man who just ran through life, went on adventures and had multiple relationships, not really caring who was destroyed in the process.
Overall, Hercules is a crazy myth and this is a great way to introduce that story to a modern audience in a way that is engaging and fun, but also heart-breaking and sad all at the same time! Thank you to NetGalley & HQ Stories for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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