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Greek myth has some intense aspects; OK for older kids.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Good introduction to myth, especially for girls who may rejoice at learning about such a strong female hero. May inspire readers to check out other myths -- see our recommended book list for some other good introductions to Ancient Greece.  

Positive messages

Retelling of a Greek myth focuses on a strong, tough woman hero who faces some tough challenges and dilemmas. She finds control in her world, even if it means living in a very different life.

Positive role models

Atalanta is a strong woman who uses her strength, brain, and heart. Because of her choices she ends up with a very different life, but she is accepting of it.


References to centaurs raping women. Atalanta kills two centaurs with a bow and arrows, shoots a boar, and forces those who lose races with her to die. A queen hangs herself.


Reference to an "elixir of convulsive lust," a mention of pubic hair, Hippomenes and Atalanta have sex, not described but clearly referred to (they "lay entwined," etc.)

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Atalanta and others drink wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a retelling of Greek myth. There are clear sexual references here -- hard to avoid in Greek mythology -- though not really described. There's also some violence (Atalanta kills two centaurs with a bow and arrows, shoots a boar, and forces those who lose races with her to die. A queen hangs herself). The book has a somewhat casual attitude toward death, also typical in myth.

What's the story?

Atalanta is abandoned as an infant, and the goddess Artemis causes her to be raised by bears. She is then taken in by a village and becomes a great runner and huntress. She takes part in the Calydonian boar hunt, causing the death of several of the huntsmen who argue over her presence there. Upon her return she is summoned by her father, who turns out to be a king, and ordered to marry, even though she is an acolyte of Artemis, pledged to chastity. She agrees to marry whoever can beat her in a race -- but if she wins the man must die.

Is it any good?


This is a straightforward retelling of the Atalanta myth in novel form, and it's enjoyable and action-packed. Though it lacks the humor and cleverness of author Stephanie Spinner's other novelized myth, Quicksilver, Atalanta was never as witty and snarky as Hermes, so the tone fits the subject. This book hews closely to the original stories (and even including an obscure episode that comes after the traditional ending of the myth), making it useful for classes studying mythology.

What humor there is, is provided in the arch commentary of the gods and goddesses that appear from time to time. Spinner also resolves one of the more troubling aspects of the original myth -- that Hippomenes seems to win the race by cheating. In this version, Atalanta clearly knows what he is doing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Greek myths. Why do we still study these stories? How are they relevant to our lives today? Why do you think modern authors are interested in retelling these stories?

  • What do you think of the violence here? Is it easier to handle in the myth context than if you were reading it in a modern, realistic novel?

Book details

Author:Stephanie Spinner
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:November 6, 2005
Number of pages:177
Publisher's recommended age(s):12

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Teen, 13 years old Written byQuiver August 16, 2009

Quiver Summary

“Quiver” is based on the story of a girl name Atalanta, who was abandoned at birth. As she grows up, she learns that the Greek god Artemis saved her. She then takes a vow of chastity and devotes herself to Artemis. At only 16 years old, she is known by some as “The swiftest mortal alive”. She is also very skilled at archery, and in search of glory and respect, joins a very dangerous hunt. After drawing first blood in the hunt, her father King Iasus, who abandoned Atalanta at birth, wants her to come back to the kingdom and marry, since she is the only heir to the throne. After receiving dreams from Apollo, most importantly advising her not to marry, she sets off towards her father. When he asks her to marry, she creates an agreement. Any man wishing to marry Atalanta must first beat her in a race. If they do not win, they must die. Many men come from far away, trying to beat Atalanta in a race, and all fail. Hippomenes, a man who has been in love with her since the day of the hunt, hears about the many failures, and realizes he has no chance of beating her without help. He then seeks the goddess Aphrodite. She gives him three golden apples, which will distract Atalanta enough for him to win the race. The day of the race, the Greek god Eros comes down and pierces Atalanta’s heart with a love arrow, so that when she sees Hippomenes, she instantly falls for him. With the help of the three golden apples, and the merciful love of Atalanta, Hippomenes wins the race. After she learns of “Cupid’s Arrow” and the truth of the golden apples, she runs to Zeus’ sacred grounds, to pray, and ask forgiveness. Her husband races to apologize, and afterwards, ‘blinded by love’ Atalanta breaks her vow of chastity. As punishment, Zeus changes them into Lions. They learn to communicate without language, and end up having a baby cub. Still in love, they are accepting of their new way of life, and live contently.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 14 years old Written bychellebelle101993 April 9, 2008

I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!

this book is based on a girl by the name of atlanta who was abondened at birth, later as she grows she belives a greek god by the name of artemeties saved her life there for she made a promise never to marry her whole life was dedicated to 1 greek god she had never met! Then the father that had abondand her at birth returns looking for a new eire because he was not as he says/feels was gifted with a male. So he forces atlanta to marry,she did not want to reveal her promise that she made to artmeties so she bargings with her father. "if a mortal man can beat me in a foot race i shall marry him, if i beat him he shall be exacuted." She thought it would keep people away but she wasnt succesful. Men came to the race but only left to see god!Then 1 day came along hippomenes a man who has loved her ever since she joined the hunt! He knew he couldnt beat her so he needed some help, so he went to the one and only god oes or as we know him now cupid. He blinded her with love i guess you can say. well he won but later she found out what happened and ran away an apology came after and the had sex on Zueses sacrid ground and as their punishment he turned them into lions a few years later she is awoken by her husband with a nidge and a newborn baby cub!