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This was my home. This harbour and sea. These golden alleys. But the town I grew up in has disappeared.

Ri is a successful international artist who has worked in London all her life. When her English husband dies she turns to her Greek roots on Crete, island of mass tourism and ancient myth, only to discover they are not what she thought. As Brexit looms in the UK, and Greece grapples with austerity and the refugee crisis, she finds under the surface of her home not only proud memories of resisting foreign occupation but a secret, darker history. As an artist, she has lived by seeing and observing. Now she discovers how much she has not seen, and finds within herself the ghost of someone she never even heard of. Unearthing her parents’ stories transforms Ri’s relationships to her family and country, her identity and her art.

Lyrical, unsettling and evocative, Daughters of the Labyrinth explores the power of buried memory and the grip of the past on the present, and questions how well we can ever know our own family.


'Entrancing - a wonderfully rich and absorbing novel, delightful in its evocation of Crete and its many-layered history.'
The Scotsman
'Animated by keen imaginative empathy and a strong sense of place, this moving, satisfying, layered novel will transport you to the amethyst Aegean'
Daily Mail
'An immersive novel, steeped in the history and folklore of Crete: transporting, historically informative story-telling'
Sunday Times
It's a wonderfully rich and absorbing novel... it tells a compelling story while at the same time deepening our understanding of the complexity of our nature.
Alan Massie, The Scotsman
'Best books to read this Autumn'
Slightly Foxed
'I can't recommend this highly enough. Beautiful, moving, exquisitely layered and compelling. I absolutely loved it'
Christina Patterson (will need to ask her for permission to use)
'A moving, superbly written exploration of a family with dark secrets. Crete itself becomes one of the main characters in the story.'
Irish Times, Best Books 2021
'A slow-burner of a novel, lyrical and psychologically astute.'
Mail on Sunday
'Daughters of the Labyrinth is a novel about a daughter's passionate quest for the truth about what happened to her parents in Crete during the German occupation. It is also a sumptuous and sensuous evocation of Crete itself, its landscape and culture. Ruth Padel's brings a poet's eye to this world of great physical beauty and gnarled legacy'
Colm Tóibín
'Ruth Padel brings a poet's ear for internal musical pattern, and deep and loving knowledge of the stones, light and colours of Crete, as she winds us into coils within coils of a family's dark history. She combines dramatic storytelling with moving reflectiveness, asking us to think again about whether it is better to remember or to forget?'
Marina Warner
'A thought-provoking novel of identity, history and our times.'
The New European
The novel is a quest, excavation of the past, of wartime Crete...it is a wonderfully rich and absorbing novel. As is usually the case with the best fiction, it tells a compelling story while at the same time deepening our understanding of the complexity of our nature.
Allan Massie, Yorkshire Post