Review: Clytemnestra's Last Day by S. Montana Katz

This piece was originally written for the Manhattan Book Review.

Clytemnestra was a queen of Greek legend best known for murdering her husband Agamemnon, together with her lover Aegisthus, upon his arrival home from the Trojan War. Following on the heels of similar reinterpretations of ancient Greek heroines such as Alcestis: a novel (Katharine Beutner) or The Penelopiad (Margaret Atwood), Clytemnestra’s Last Day seeks to continue the trend of reimagining Greek myths in modern feminist contexts.

Clytemnestra makes for an interesting character: despite her infamous reputation, she is one of only a few women in Greek mythology to exhibit power and initiative—traditionally male qualities. Despite the compelling premise, author S. Montana Katz’s Clytemnestra falls short of eliciting any meaningful kind of empathy for its protagonist. The doomed queen gives the impression of a woman confused and deranged, unable to stop repeating her version of events and returning, incessantly, to memories of all who wronged her. Filled with regret, self-hatred, and bitterness, she spends the story seeking someone else to blame for her life’s troubles.

In Clytemnestra’s Last Day, Katz has taken a controversial figure and, rather than helping the audience to better understand her actions, turns this complex woman with agency into nothing more than a victim.

Rating: 2/5 ★