Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cassandra” as Want to Read:
The Cassandra
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cassandra

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The Cassandra follows a woman who goes to work in a top secret research facility during WWII, only to be tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind.

Mildred Groves is an unusual young woman. Gifted and cursed with the ability to see the future, Mildred runs away from home to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center in the early 1940s. H
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Henry Holt and Co.
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cassandra, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Cassandra

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  69 ratings  ·  43 reviews

Sort order
Writing this review hurts me a little because this was easily one of my most anticipated books of 2019, but I'm sorry, this was pretty terrible. The premise was genius: it's the story of the Greek mythological figure Cassandra retold and set at Hanford, the research facility in the U.S. that developed the atomic bomb during WWII. But I had four main problems with The Cassandra that I just couldn't get over: characters, plot, themes, and its success (or failure rather) as an adaptation, so let's ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The Cassandra by Sharma Shields is a retelling of the classic Cassandra myth, set at the Hanford nuclear facility during World War II. Full disclosure, I once again missed that it was a myth retelling until after I read it.

Mildred gets a job at Hanford as a secretary, and happily leaves home in Omak, Washington, where she had been her mother's caregiver. There is also a sense that she tried to kill her mother, but this isn't immediately explained.

Once at Hanford, the other women discover that Mi
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: librarything
Sharma Shield's novel The Cassandra was a very dark read. The protagonist Mildred Groves' gift of prophecy alienates her from her family and the larger society. She struggles with a desire to fit in while visions reveal horrifying inevitabilities and men's true natures.

Mildred ceases the chance to escape her suffocating home and needy mother, thrilled to find work at a WWII government research facility in a remote part of Washington on the Columbia River. The "project" will shorten the war,
Geonn Cannon
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5. I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did. I'm not sure why exactly it didn't work for me, and I think it might be that I just never quite warmed to the main character. The setting and plot were great, and Mildred was perfectly of her time. She was exactly the type of person you might find rebelling against the family and society expectations set in front of her, but I also kind of found her bland. She made the biggest decision of her life because of a vision. She didn't make a choic ...more
Crystal King
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Cassandra is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth, this time set in Washington state. It begins in the town where my own father grew up and so I immediately felt a connection to the character...Omak is not a place well known to many! Mildred ends up at Hanford during WWII when the nuclear plant was most instrumental in making the most powerful weapon in the history of mankind..This is not an easy tale to read emotionally, (particularly in our tumultuous times) but it is brilliantly t ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Cassandra had such an interesting premise: a young woman who has very clear and graphic visions of the future is excited to leave her dysfunctional and claustrophobic family life to work as a secretary at the mysterious Hanford government research facility in Washington, but once there begins to suffer from visions of the death and destruction that will be brought about by the nuclear bombs for which Hanford is supplying the plutonium. I liked that it was a modern retelling of the Cassandra ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book descriptions tend to give too much away, so I often merely skim them to determine interest. From skimming this one I expected something with war experiments and psychics along the lines of mind control experiments of 50s, 60s and 70s, but this is essentially Manhattan Project material. Creation and implementation of the atomic bombs during the end of WWII as witnessed by a helpless prophet. Cassandra is a tragic figure of Greek Mythology. There are different versions of the story, but tradi ...more
Cats of Ulthar February Weird Fiction
Reading THE CASSANDRA is a monumental Reading Experience. I read it in a matter of hours because I couldn't turn away, I couldn't stop reading, and I thought about it all night afterwards. This literary historical novel was my first introduction to author Sharma Shields, and it "blew me away." I'd long been interested in the World War II history of Hanford, Washington, so I was excited to discover this novel, but I received far more than I expected. Not only is Sharma Shields an incredibly gifte ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
An Entertaining Modern Retelling Of The Classic Greek Myth.

I enjoyed this retelling quite a bit. I loved the ways the author modernized the story, part historical fiction part fantasy. It was pretty powerful and a lot of great symbolism is used. I really liked the time period this is set in too. How the author showed the way women were treated at this time. Also its interesting how Mildred a person with prophetic visions is labeled as mentally ill where in Ancient times would have been more lik
Jan 09, 2019 marked it as to-read
Based in mythology, The Cassandra is a harrowing read. Cassandra was a prophet with the gift of true visions of the future, and the curse of no one ever believing her visions are true. Imagine seeing the fruition of The Manhattan Project before it actually happens. Now, imagine having no way to stop what you have seen, and everyone believes you are just some crazy person. The story is straight up bleak. The characters are engaging and tragic. I liked the story overall because I'm interested in t ...more
Edwin Howard
Dec 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mildred Groves in THE CASSANDRA, by Sharma Shields, wants to escape the life she has been dealt caretaking for her cantankerous, angry mother. She finds a job at Hanford, a secret government base where the "product" is being created and help is needed by the bus full. Mildred develops friendships and relishes in her new life, but quickly her hidden ability, having accurate visions of the future, begins to overwhelm her life and reveal so many truths to her that she finds it hard to live in the ...more
Literary Soirée
I highly recommend “The Cassandra: A Novel” by Sharma Shields, a modern day slant on the Cassandra myth, only this time with a young woman who works in a top secret research facility during WWII tormented by visions of what the mission will mean for humankind. She risks all by questioning those in power, demonstrating great bravery and spiritual inspiration as she “sounds” the metaphoric alarm bell. 5/5

Pub Date 12 Feb 2019

Thanks to Henry Holt & Company and NetGalley for the review copy. Opin
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads, netgalley
3.5 stars, rounded up.

Thank you to Henry Holt & Co. via Netgalley for my advanced digital copy of this book!

"What did it mean to be born white in this country, to speak a language germinated not here but overseas? To infest and control but to never belong or care for, like a parasite? What horrors had we committed. what horrors did we continue to commit, to the original inhabitants?

The Cassandra is one of the most unique books I have read in a long time, and takes a much different look at th
Faith Hurst-Bilinski
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I absolutely devoured this book. At first it seems a simple coming of age type story. Mildred wants adventure and to get out from under the control of her mother and sister. We find she is socially awkward and a little different. Then we find she is a lot different. She has visions that lead her through the story. These visions and her inability to get anyone to listen to her have shaped her life and her mind. We are constantly, from that point on, told that we have no idea who Mildred really is ...more
Melissa Dee
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like the mythical Cassandra, Mildred has the gift of prophecy, and she is doomed to be right, but not believed. Working at the Hanford nuclear test site, in the lead up to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is no surprise that her sleeping and waking dreams are filled with horrific dreams of melting faces and bodies burned beyond recognition.
Sharma Shields gives Milly the prosaic-sounding job of secretary to a top ranking physicist at the labs. But Milly is anything but prosaic. She has spirit guides; w
Dec 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Wow, that took a number of unexpected turns.

This book is powerful in the dark shadowy way it presents the effects of war, the deep issues of developing the atomic bomb, the rashness of men, and the exploitation/victimization of women. Though, not just women - also children, "weak" men, those of other races or places, and really anyone different. It truly lays bare some of the worst we humans contain.

The voice it's told in is unique, and while it worked for this book, I'm not sure how I felt abou
Aimee Dars
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
In 1944, Mildred Groves, Star Pupil (of six) at the Omak Secretarial School, becomes a secretary for Dr. Phillip Hall at the top-secret World War II facility Hanford in South Central Washington state. Her new job represents not just a chance to contribute to the war effort but also a way to escape her domineering mother and sister. But Mildred is not just an excellent employee--she possesses an unusual gift. She receives visions that foretell the future. As a child, her visions earned her the mo ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

I really wanted to like this one a lot more than I did. It had all the elements of a great story for me; the time-period, the drama, the characters who were somewhat dark and twisty. I think it was the whole future-telling aspect that I just couldn't get into.

It was a very poetic book. The language used and the depictions of Milly's visions were beautiful, but just not quite what I expected and they kind of put up a wall for me and created that gap that prevented me from really loving a
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
As a Classics major, I was immediately taken with the idea of a book that retold the story of Cassandra, a character history and the male writers who have handled her have often unfairly dismissed. This book, then, which catapults the character to center stage -only this time in Washington during WWII - was one I immediately knew I HAD to read.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book. The plot was new and interesting, and there were just enough hints of the classical Cassandra to keep me interest
Courtney Lynn (reorganizedreading)
"I didn't start this. I'm a part of it now, but it's not my fault. This is the plot of men."

For those of you who are jumping into mythology retellings (i.e. The Silence of the Girls, Circe), this is one you will definitely not want to miss! The Cassandra takes a classic mythology story and inserts it into a modern(ish) setting that totally makes sense.

Sharma Shields places a reincarnation of the figure Cassandra from Greek mythology into a WW2 production camp. Cassandra takes shape in charac
Mona  AlvaradoFrazier
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mildred runs away from a suffocating home with an abusive mother and sister to take a secretary position at the Hanford Research Center, a vast facility, in Washington state. The story is set in the early 1940s and follows Mildred as she settles into a place where she feels valued. "Joining that great workforce, the flimsy weight of my girlhood dropped behind me on the ground like a discarded shawl." "My whole life I'd only ever wanted to help, to be believed enough that I make a difference."

The Lexington Bookie
Jan 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
This eARC was provided through NetGalley from Henry Holt & Company in exchange for an honest review.

I hate it when I have to DNF a book, but even more so because this novel is from NetGalley, and a publisher approved me to read it. It feels like I let them down, but at the same time, it's about honesty in the review, is it not? Which is why I always explain my reasoning behind a DNF'd book.

In The Cassandra, the main character, Mildred, seems to be a pleasant girl looking for adventure- anyt
Amber Ladd
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs, 2018-reads
(This book was not meant for me but it doesn't mean it's a bad book.)

The Cassandra is a novel set in WW2 that follows a young woman named Mildred, who had a special gift of seeing the future. She embarks on a journey of leaving her abusive family by way of finding a job outside of her home town as a secretary at a work camp, where her work contributes to the efforts in aiding the allies in WW2. As time goes on, Mildred's visions of the future grow stronger, and she comes to realize that the work
The Cassandra takes the myth/figure of Cassandra - who was cursed to voice true prophecies that no one will believe - and places her in 1940s Washington, working as a secretary for a mysterious project that will help the Allies win World War II.

Millie applies for the secretarial position at Hanford in order to escape her abusive and stifling home life. She immediately hits it off with Beth, a nurse who is starting work at Hanford at the same time, and for the first time feels like she might fit
Kim McGee
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Mildred has been put down, belittled and relied on for everything by her mom and sister. Left to care for her cranky mom with the venomous tongue, she sees her chance for a future and accepts a job at a secret government plant just far enough from her family. Milly is not a social butterfly but she does make a good friend in her roommate. The fact that Milly has powerful visions that make her say odd things, behave strangely and the fact that she sleepwalks, gives her roommate and others cause f ...more
Sadie Newell
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A period piece! Something I just can't get enough of....

So this book was a bit...intense. It had a good hook in the beginning and I spent some time trying to figure out if the lead character was on the spectrum at all - but as the book went on, I was more inclined to believe that she was just a product of her childhood. A strange girl, with visions of the future is hired to be a secretary at Hanford Research Center. She isn't told what it is the scientists are doing at Hanford, but through her v
Kathleen Gray
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Are you familiar with the Cassandra myth? If not, don't worry because it will become very clear to you early on that Mildred's story is going to be dark. Those looking for this to mirror that tale might be disappointed or spend too much energy on comparing without enjoying- or experiencing- what is on the page here. This is not a happy story. Mildred's visions especially once she goes to work at Hanford are not positive. This novel is worth reading for the descriptions of the facility but note, ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book. I read about halfway through and couldn't read any further. The main character was very weak and her family detestable. I felt sorry for the character a bit due to the way her family treated her but this didn't last long the further she dealt with them over the phone. She pretty much gave in to their behavior and treatment toward her. I could have handled this if it were written a little better, perhaps. I just don't feel that the story was developing well. The ...more
Kay Dixon
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Cassandra is a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth, this time set in Washington state.
Having only lived in Washington State for a few years, I did not learn about Hanford until relocating here. But this tale added to my knowledge of Hanford and its impact on the area.
The protagonist Mildred ends up at Hanford during WWII when the nuclear plant was most instrumental in making the most powerful weapon in the history of mankind.
As other reviewers have noted, this is not an easy tale to
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it

Shields' latest novel centers on a young woman in the 1940s, a young woman who sees visions of the future, who goes to work as a typist at the Hanford Site. While at first she doesn't know what their Project is, she is soon seeing terrifying visions of the terrible devastation it will bring--but of course, she is a Cassandra, and no one listens to her. I found this to be fairly bleak, though not exactly how I expected, but also I found it very interesting.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Barrow Will Send What it May (Danielle Cain #2)
  • The Interior Life
  • Mending the Moon
  • Little Apocalypse
  • Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free (Finn Fancy Necromancy, #2)
  • Death's Dancer (Grace Bloods Book 1)
  • Wild Life
  • A Chinaman's Chance: One Family's Journey and the Chinese American Dream
  • Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return
  • Windswept (Windswept, #1)
  • Up on Cloud Nine
  • The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr.
  • Homefront
  • When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man
  • The Weather Stations
  • The Best Bad Things
  • A Tyranny of Queens (Manifold Worlds, #2)
  • The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show
Sharma Shields is the author of a short story collection, Favorite Monster, and a novel, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac. Henry Holt will publish her next novel, The Cassandra, in early 2019. Sharma’s writing has appeared in Catapult, Electric Lit, Slice, Slate, The New York Times, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Fugue, and elsewhere and has garnered such awards as the 2016 Washington State Book Award, ...more
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »