The Silence of the Girls
The Silence of the Girls is about the protagonist, Briseis, and her journey from a Trojan Queen to a slave of the Greek army. She is awarded to Achilles as a prize for his hard work in the war, killing hundreds of Trojan men in under a week. Briseis is treated roughly and with not an inch of respect, except from Patroclus, Achilles’ best friend and loyal carer. While her people, the Trojans, are dying by the minute, Briseis is stuck in the camp fighting a battle of her own: to keep her mind turning completely insane. The horrors she faces are unimaginably deep and often disturbing to people of today’s world – a world where the struggles of ancient people are so distanced that their stories are considered no more than entertainment in “unrealistic” books and movies.
This book made me feel horrified and deeply disturbed at the things that happened only a few centuries ago. So despicable are they, that my mind would never have been able to conjure anything like them before reading this book. It is a massive eye-opener to the ways things have changed, and made me feel incredibly grateful for the world I live in today.
The writing style of Barker is simple, yet very evocative of vivid imaginings and wild emotions. The situations Briseis are put in are in no way relatable (and thank God for that) however they are so well written that one feels a part of it nonetheless. It is like plunging into a pool to find yourself cleansed of your world and thrown into a new one on the other side, one that is long gone however so present in the moment.
If this book was a perfume, it would smell like ash, blood, and gore. There is nothing innocent or delicately fragrant about this book. It is too intense to be written off as something pleasant that people would want to be immersed in.
Overall, The Silence of the Girls is an infinitely powerful novel that will show you things you have never dreamed of.