Song of Achilles – Book Review

Summary: The Song of Achilles is a book written by Madeline Miller and is the story of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship. The book is written in first person from Patroclus’ point of view. In the book we are told more about the background of Patroclus, how Patroclus and Achilles met, their training by Chiron, and the Trojan war. It is similar in setting to the Iliad and the Odyssey. The gods and man conspire and battle together and in the end there is always tragedy.


My take: The book is beautifully written. Ms. Miller is an exceptional writer. Her way of describing what is happening makes the scenes in my head so much more detailed. Her description of the gods was also very well done. I could see Thetis, Apollo and Chiron so clearly I had to stop several times to soak in the visions. The story was also very entertaining and all the characters involved in the book were very well described and developed. The problem I mostly had with this book was the story line, especially towards the end.

The beginning of the book tells us about Patroclus and his hardships, and when he is exiled he finally meets Achilles and they develop a strong friendship. As their friendship grew, I did begin to notice that this book could take their relationship into a homosexual one, but I thought of the companionship of Jonathan and David and their love for each other and I hoped that the book would delve into that kind of relationship – a comradery and love between men, frankly demonized and unheard of now-a-days, but it didn’t. The whole book, almost in its entirety, is the romantic homosexual relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. I was a bit surprised by it because Homer’s Iliad alluded more to Achilles having the role of a comforting mother to Patroclus, rather than a lover and as an equal. Either way, the ancient Greeks were not known for their high sense of sexual morality, so the narrative wasn’t that surprising. What I did find surprising was the monogamy between them. There are not many heroes or gods in Greek mythology who were so “tame” as Achilles was portrayed in the book, so I did laugh a little out loud at the author’s attempt to twist tradition and, frankly reality, into a round hole using a square peg. Achilles practically being raped by Deidamia and his platonic relationship with Briseis is laughable. It clashes with his character. I would have easier accepted his love for Patroclus plus some philandering. Achilles sexual faithfulness to Patroclus just didn’t work very well in the story. It made him less real and less savage and he was renowned for his rage, according to the Iliad.

Caution: There are two homosexual love scenes that were not so quickly over in the audio book. There is also a love scene between Patroclus and Deidamia that also made me uncomfortable. There are several mentions of rape and of what the book calls “bed slaves”. There is also several scenes of violent war and gore.

 Let us Reason: Despite all the above, the book is still a good book. Her descriptions are a masterpiece. As a Christian, I really can’t be too upset with the author portraying pagan Greeks acting like pagan Greeks, it was her trying to make it “beautiful” that was more of my problem. If there is a conversation to be had about this book, for me, it would be that. Why do some sins not seem as bad as others? What are some of the warnings to consider when our hearts tell us it’s not so bad, but God’s Word says it is? What is so wrong with something if it doesn’t hurt anyone? These are all good and valid questions that Christians need to answer, because the Bible already has already answered them. Our hearts are deceptive and our feelings fluctuate like weather temperatures. It is a comfort to know that we have an anchored God in these storms who has made Himself known in Jesus and in His Word.

Recommendations: I recommend this book to anyone who likes Greek mythology and doesn’t mind a homosexual plot. Because of the plot, I do not recommend this book to anyone under 18.

Every Dead Thing – Book Review

Every Dead Thing is a book written by John Conolly. It is the first book in a series that introduces us to Detective Charlie Parker. The book tells us of the gruesome death of Mr. Parker’s wife and daughter and includes a parallel story about a child murderer and that investigation. There is a spooky undertone to the book also. It delves into dreams and spiritism and left me several times making sure I had a night light on. The ending of the book was written very well and was very intense. Like, Mr. Charlie Parker, the ending was somber and downcast.

I found the book to be a bit frustrating because Mr. Conolly introduces so many people very quickly and then brings them back again later. I had to go back several times to remember who was who and who did what. There was a lot going on throughout the whole book and several times I had to stop reading and re-read a paragraph or two. This was disheartening sometimes because the book is almost 500 pages long and going back to read every so often makes the book seem even longer.

There is a lot of violence and foul language in this book. There is also a lot of carnage and the body count is high. Parker’s assistants are a gay couple who aren’t  flamboyant at all and a psycho analyst who delves into the cesspool of human depravity. Thankfully,  there is only one – very short – love scene between Parker and the psycho analyst.

I did like the ending of the book and because of its palpable scene and demented twist in the end, I am considering continuing the series, but Mr. Conolly does tend to write tomes when it comes to the Charlie Parker books. I do not think I am ready to start another long book just yet. Maybe this summer, I will try out the second book.

I recommend this book to the adult who likes detective books and murder mysteries. I do not recommend this book to teens due to its violence and graphic murder scenes.

You can buy this book here.


10 Days in a Mad House – Book Review

Ten Days in a Mad House is a non-fiction book I read that checked off  “a book over 100 years old” in my reading challenge list.  The book was written in 1887 by a young journalist named Nellie Bly and is about her disguising herself as a “mad person” to expose the maltreatment and abuses happening in insane asylums. Through her wit she is able to get herself easily committed to Blackwell Island Insane Asylum and tells of her experience as she lived among the “mad”.

I found the book to be amazing and Ms. Bly’s courage is admirable. Putting herself in such a situation, in an age where communication was extremely limited, I was awestruck by her will to expose the inhumanity in these places. She ran the high risk of being drugged and losing her wits herself or even worse, but she courageously continued her façade even when a fellow journalist came by to check on her. She was starved and suffered bitter cold. She was humiliated and endured watching the agony of others. Because of this book she got the attention of many and began an investigation into the treatment of mental patients who had no voice. Through her and others, she brought about awareness to the poor conditions of these poor people.

Blackwell Island Insane Asylum was funded by the state and was run by the government. Because of Ms. Bly’s exposure the state did decide to increase the asylum’s budget by $1,000,000, but most things don’t get better by throwing money at it. Blackwell Island closed in 1901.

This book is a very short read, about 90 pages. Ms. Bly is an excellent journalist and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes non-fiction books. I also recommend it to anyone who likes period pieces or is a classical feminists. I would allow my tweens and teens to read it.