> Skip to content
Read an extract
Play sample
  • Published: 5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143778707
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 13 hr 24 min
  • Narrators: Aaron Tsindos, Zoe Carides, Socratis Otto
  • RRP: $32.99

The Crimson Thread

Set in Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka a young Greek woman saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

Jack and Teddy are childhood friends who joined up together to see the world. Both men fall in love with Alenka. They are forced to retreat with the tattered remains of the Allied forces over the towering White Mountains. Both are are among the 7000 Allied soldiers left behind in the desperate evacuation from Crete's storm-lashed southern coast.
Alenka hides Jack and Teddy at great risk to herself. Her brother Axel is a Nazi sympathiser
and collaborator and spies on her movements.
As Crete suffers under the Nazi jackboot, Alenka is drawn into an intense triangle of conflicting emotions with Jack and Teddy. Their friendship suffers under the strain of months of hiding and their rivalry for her love. Together, they join the resistance and fight to free the island, but all three will find themselves tested to their limits. Alenka must choose whom to trust and whom to love and, in the end, whom to save.

  • Published: 5 July 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143778707
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 13 hr 24 min
  • Narrators: Aaron Tsindos, Zoe Carides, Socratis Otto
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Kate Forsyth

Dr Kate Forsyth is an award-winning author, poet, and storyteller. Her most recent novel is
The Crimson Thread, a reimagining of ‘The Minotaur in the Labyrinth’ myth set in Crete during the Nazi invasion and occupation of World War II.

Other historical novels include Beauty in Thorns, a reimagining of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ told in the voices of four women of the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists and poets; The Wild Girl, the story of the forbidden romance behind the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales which was named Most Memorable Love Story of 2013; and Bitter Greens, a retelling of ‘Rapunzel’ which won the 2015 American Library Association award for Best Historical Fiction.

Kate has a Doctorate of Creative Arts in fairy tale studies, and is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers. She has taught writing retreats in Australia, Fiji, Greece, and the United Kingdom.

Also by Kate Forsyth

See all

Praise for The Crimson Thread

There’s a reason why Kate Forsyth is one of Australia’s most beloved storytellers – it’s because she writes such enchanting tales. The Crimson Thread and its wonderful main character Alenka will weave their way around your heart and you won’t want to let them go. A gripping story about a fascinating piece of history, meticulously researched and beautifully written.

Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Riviera House

Forsyth sets her story in Crete, 1941, where protagonist Alenka listens to stories from her Yia-Yia and is inspired by the [Minotaur] myth's feisty Ariadne. When the island is occupied by the Nazis, Alenka joins the resistance and saves the lives of two Aussie soldiers, Jack and Teddy. Both Aussies fall in love with Alenka - and why wouldn't they - she's a captivating character - but a difficult love traingle ensues as the underground work becomes more dangerous.

Australian Women's Weekly

A spellbinding tapestry of a novel steeped in the rich, vibrant culture and mythology of Crete, The Crimson Thread is a story of tragedy and heroism, of the women and men oppressed by Nazi occupation, their amazing courage and fierce resistance, and of the brave few Allies who helped them.

Christine Wells, bestselling author of Sisters of the Resistance

Kate Forsyth's masterful gift for recasting classic fairytales in fiction is unmatched! In The Crimson Thread she sets the legend of Ariadne and the minotaur in WWII Greece, where a resourceful Cretan beauty is caught dangerously between a brash Australian soldier, his shy poet best friend, and her own Hitler-obsessed younger brother as her village comes under fire in the brutal German invasion of Crete. Love, jealousy, war, espionage, and myth combine in a tale as complex and beguiling as Ariadne's labyrinth - I couldn't put it down!

Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling author of The Diamond Eye

Kate Forsyth's The Crimson Thread weaves myth and history in a dazzling tapestry of love, courage and war. Set on Crete during WW2 with the Palace of Knossos at its heart, Forsyth conjures a labyrinthine tale to rival Ariadne's. Alenka, a young woman in the Cretan resistance, bravely faces not only the occupying forces but a monstrous half brother and two rival lovers. The tale deftly ties real history and cameos from people like Patrick Leigh Fermor seamlessly into the lives of the fictional characters. Lose yourself in this war story where love is the light which guides you home.

Kate Lord Brown

No one spins a tale quite like Kate Forsyth with her musical prose and vivid details that twine together into story threads as timeless as a Greek epic. Family, honor, war, love. It's all there in her latest novel, The Crimson Thread, set on the wild and beautiful island of Crete - and the horror of the Nazi invasion. The Crimson Thread is a compelling and engaging must-read for fans of WWII fiction!

Heather Webb, USA Today bestselling author of The Next Ship Home

The Crimson Thread is a lyrical, majestic work of fiction. Kate Forsyth writes beautifully about the mythic and the romantic, about the minotaur hidden in a maze, about ruins of the palace of Knossos on Crete and the brutal, heartbreaking moments that entrap all. I didn’t want the book to end!

Weina Dai Randel, award-winning author of The Last Rose of Shanghai

A spellbinding tale of resistance and love in WWII Crete. Courage, sacrifice and betrayal form the backdrop for a Homeric love triangle, where a young woman faces impossible choices in a time of struggle and survival. Forsyth never fails to enchant with her masterful loom, weaving myth and history into her unique tapestries.

C.W. Gortner, author of MADEMOISELLE CHANEL

Kate is a master storyteller and her books are a pure delight.

Emily, AU Review

A riveting tale of courage, love, and betrayal in Crete during WWII. Bookstores are awash in novels depicting the depredations of Nazi occupation in various European countries, but Greece’s travails rarely appear in fiction — the Cretan experience, hardly ever. This makes the wide-ranging and suspenseful The Crimson Thread all the more interesting and oddly timely. The way it highlights the courage and determination of Cretans in fighting the enemy brings to mind the stalwart resolve of Ukrainians bravely doing the same today.

Washington Independent Review of Books

The Crimson Thread is steeped in Cretan myth, not only the story of Ariadne and the labyrinth, but also everyday culture and folk beliefs. This brought it to life in a way other books can only dream of. In addition, the story started well before the protagonists found themselves in the midst of their troubles. We get to see them grow and reach the pinnacles of their journeys, rather than starting with them halfway there. Best of all, partway through the book I realized I didn’t know what would happen. I could guess at the main structure of the story, but the details I thought were obvious soon became a mystery. I heartily enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it.

Jo Niederhoff, San Francisco Review of Books

All sorts of authors are writing women-centric historicals. Kate Forsyth's work is always marked by its roots in fable and fairytale. Here she goes to the often-visited World War II, specifically the role played by Australians in Crete. The setting is unusual, as is the Cretan heroine having a half-German, Nazi brother. Naturally, Knossos and its labyrinth figure, but the narrative is equally about modern Crete and its culture. It has a strong sense of place, and also family history, for Forsyth had relatives serving in Crete. The result successfully mixes warfare and archaeology, coding and traditional embroidery. For the war buff with a fondness for romance.

Lucy Sussex, The Sydney Morning Herald

A UNIQUE AND POWERFUL BLENDING OF GREEK MYTH AND WORLD WAR TWO-ERA HISTORICAL FICTION. Kate Forsyth is Australia’s gift to the world of historical fiction and fantasy. The Crimson Thread is extremely well-researched and offers a fresh perspective that those drawn to stories set in this era will devour.

Vanessa Elle, Glamadelaide

Discover more

How Kate Forsyth thought to connect history and myth in new novel

An interview with Kate Forsyth about her new novel, The Crimson Thread.

The Crimson Thread book club questions

A gripping historical fiction to read with your book club.

6 books that will show you a new side of Australian history

These six books will deepen your understanding of our country’s past by showing you a different side of Australian history.