I had to read Medusa after reading the first page after Bloomsbury shared the first page of the book on twitter. With a strong opening line of “If I told you I’d killed a man with a glance, would you want to hear the rest?” who wouldn't want to read more?
Growing up my parents used to watch a lot of the old Greek legend’s films like Jason and the argonauts and clash of the titans but only knew of Medusa the monster. It wasn’t until my late teens I looked up the original legend I was shocked to find out the truth also credit to the Clash of the Titans remake where Gemma Arterton character tells them the truth. I knew the Medusa legend well and was keen to read this feminist retelling.
The book is the first book that I have read that gives Medusa a more sensitive and human insight. Medusa’s story also sheds a light on complex issues such as abandonment, male dominance, victim shaming and deception. Jessies retelling also shows us the position of many women in ancient Greece, a story of a woman wronged, and a journey to discover yourself and finding acceptance in what you become.
I read this book in one sitting, what Jessie manages to do in 171 pages is remarkable. This retelling Jessie’s Medusa is not the stereotypical monster and just a mere opponent in a hero’s quest. Instead, the monster you think you know from the myths and legends is a frightened young girl, lonely, unsure of her future, and searching for answers after being dealt a horrendous fate.
Despite being a Gorgon, Jessie make Medusa human and you can’t
help but feel for this young woman who has everything taken away from her
through no fault of her own. Though out this book you can’t help feeling the
love, sorrow, pain, jealousy, and rage alongside Medusa. She has every right to
be fearful for her future, her sisters fates and the seething with rage within.
Her fate was changed by a petty God and Goddess and is beyond cruel and how
through no fault of her own she has she been so horribly damned to live her
life isolated and alone. Where was Poseidon’s punishment Athena? Remember that
Medusa through no fault of her own was disfigured by Athena despite Medusa
asking her for help a God she actually prayed to too and who should have protected
her. But instead turned her into a monster with snakes for hair talking of her snakes
throughout this book she shares an interesting relationship with them as each
one has a name and mood that need to be tended.
The writing style in this retelling is beautiful and faultless keeping this story accessible to everyone. Not only did I enjoy the story itself, I also loved the inclusion of Medusa’s sisters, who are so often sadly overlooked they really helped bring an added layer to the mythical being that is Medusa. Jessie gives Medusa a voice to tell her story and an opportunity to chart her own destiny and I loved every second of it.