Outrun the Wind: Review
Greek mythology! Retelling! Fierce female protagonist! This seems like a triple threat and I was really looking forward to reading Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi. Unfortunately, the writing just fell completely flat for me and I just wasn’t invested enough in the main characters because of how the plot developed. Note: I received an e-galley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
The Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.
To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.
She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.
There are many compelling aspects of Outrun the Wind that should be recognized. Though the book is based on the myth of Atalanta, Elizabeth Tammi takes many creative liberties to fill in gaps of knowledge around the woman, and I think this was approached really well! Tammi was able to inject humanity into an otherwise ferocious and mythological figure by showing us both Atalanta’s fears and desires. Outrun the Wind features several fierce female characters, as it revolves around the legendary fighter Atalanta and Artemis’ fierce band of huntresses. The female perspective is rarely seen in Greek mythology, so to have this story retold from their points of view was very unique and I appreciated this. It should also be noted that the book contains a F/F relationship, and this is part of the author’s creative twist on the legend of Atalanta.
However, I just could not find myself blazing through this book like I normally would with a mythological retelling. There were two primary reasons for this, the first being out-of-period language and mannerisms. Does this bug anyone else? Retellings like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series can get away with using modern-day slang because those stories are placed in a contemporary setting. However, Outrun the Wind is clearly meant to be set in ancient Greece, so reading verbiage that uses modern slang was really disarming and felt out of place. This contributed to the lack of tonality throughout the whole book- in scenes where gravity was intended, they instead felt light because of the dialogue. In general, I had major issues with the dialogue and the lack of consistency that it had throughout Outrun the Wind.
The second reason why I wasn’t as invested in this book as I could have been was Kahina. Outrun the Wind is told through two alternating perspectives: Atalanta’s and Kahina’s, one of Artemis’ huntresses. For me personally, Kahina was just not a strongly developed character. Her motivations and decisions constantly lacked clear reasoning. It should also be noted that Kahina is a large fictional element that Tammi introduced, as she is not from the original legend of Atalanta, though she may have mythological roots in a different part of the world. I did notice that the invented characters had significantly poorer development and less vibrant descriptions than the ones who existed previously in Greek mythology.
The book picked up in the last 30%, as we approached the devious ending to the story of Atalanta that is commonly told. The final challenger for her hand, Hippomenes, uses three golden apples to distract the princess and ends up winning the race. This moment was heartbreaking- we all knew it was going to happen but Tammi did a fabulous job in adding more depth to this scene from multiple perspectives. Overall, while I felt that a bulk of the book moved at a slow pace and was frustratingly focused on bizarre character development, the ending was climactic and fun to read.