Harper, 2023 (2023)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
any women have had bad press down through the ages and Natalie Haynes (author of
A Thousand Ships
) portrays the mythical Medusa as a very early one in her thought provoking feminist fantasy,
edusa, youngest of the Gorgon sisters, is mortal. She's raised by her immortal sisters Sthenno and Euryale, who learn to love her - and fear for her. Medusa grows up fascinated by humans, so decides to visit a temple of Athene's. After sea god Poseidon assaults Medusa there, Athene blames her.
he goddess punishes Medusa by making her hair into snakes and cursing her with the power to turn anything she looks at to stone. As so often has happened, the victim is blamed and punished for the powerful abuser's actions. Another mistreated young woman, Danae, and her newborn, Perseus, are saved from the sea by a fisherman, Dictys.
ears later, when a king wants Danae, Perseus agrees to bring him the head of a Gorgon in return for leaving his mother in peace. Sound heroic to you? Haynes quickly makes clear her view of him as '
a vicious little thug
'. He takes Medusa's head with help from several gods - and the story continues down through the ages ...
hroughout, Haynes upends Greek myths, turning heroes into monsters, and so-called monsters into very real and rather likeable individuals.
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