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Corydon & the Island of Monsters    by Tobias Druitt order for
Corydon & the Island of Monsters
by Tobias Druitt
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Corydon is an unusual, allegorical adventure story, loosely based on Greek mythology. It asks who are true monsters, those who are frighteningly different or the powerful mainstream folk who fear and attack these nightmares.

Corydon Panfoot has one goat's leg. He was made the pharmakos (scapegoat) by villagers, left to die by his fellows (including his own mother), and saved by monsters, two immortal, bronze-winged Gorgon sisters - the studious Sthenno and ever-hungry 'all belly and no brains' Euryale. Corydon has eked out a lonely existence as a shepherd since that time, barely remembering his saviors. Now, he's captured and caged by pirates (whose Captain wields a powerful Staff) collecting for a freak show. His fellow captives include a Sphinx, a Minotaur, a Hydra, a snake-girl, a flamethrowing lion, and the embittered, vastly pregnant Medusa (of the snaky hair and a glance that turns those who meet her eyes to stone) held in a mirrored enclosure.

Helped by the Gorgons, Corydon and his fellow monsters escape captivity and spread across the island, hoping to live there in peace. Medusa stays with Corydon, Sthenno and Euryale, who help her to birth her son Gorgoliskos. Corydon seeks his immortal father and learns that he has a role to play in a war between the gods of Olympos and older powers. He must travel to the Underworld and seek Kronos (who holds Time and Memory). For it is prophesied that Corydon will 'become one with the monsters and that together they shall make the whole land clean.'

In the meantime, Zeus's cowardly son Perseus has been inveigled into taking on the task of ridding the world of monsters. It takes some powerful marketing tools - and the lure of muthical treasures - to recruit his army, which is mostly riff-raff, but thousands in number, and includes the idealistic Lysias and his cynical brother Kharmides. Zeus also lends Perseus winged sandals, a magical shield, and the bronze fifty-foot high giant Talos, to aid his cause. The monsters fight back in this unequal battle, losing some of their number, and Corydon faces many challenges including a meeting with Persephone in Hades.

This exciting tale of freaks and monsters fighting the gods themselves ends with an encounter with the black-cloaked mother goddess Demeter, who asks Corydon if he will serve again. He agrees, thus committing to a sequel. Enjoy Corydon as a thrilling mythological story, which satirizes elements of modern life, and offers much food for thought.

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