Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth (Illustrated Gift Edition)
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So, when Poseidon takes an interest in Medusa while she fishes in her little skiff, there is very little she can do to repel his unwanted advances. Even when she stops taking to the waters to fish, Poseidon punishes her village with floods and storms. This retelling was YA but it’s not without dark and difficult themes. I have placed some trigger warnings at the bottom of this review. While this was a Medusa tale with some familiarity, it really portrayed her perspective, what life was like for her. I particularly thought for the first time what life would be like with snakes on your head, the loss of her hair and how that affected her with the same hopes and desires as any young woman. Her narrative alongside Perseus’ was bittersweet and yet still something to delight in.
I’d imagine that if I said the name Medusa to you, the picture that would immediately spring to mind would be of a wild eyed harridan, with snakes madly circling her head.
I must give recognition to Olivia Lomenech Gill for the many wondrous, beautiful illustrations. They add so much to the story.
We all know what happens, but I will stop there, leaving you dear reader in Burton’s capable hands as she ends her marvelous retelling of this tale with a climactic ending. In this haunting reimagining of the myth of Medusa and Perseus, Burton positions the pair as teenagers swept up in the capricious gods' machinations, struggling to defy the destinies thrust upon them... Medusa's first-person voice is formally distant, hinting at her inner turmoil and experiences with misogynistic double standards. Lomenech Gill's angular, full-color illustrations add another layer of depth to the story." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist voted Specsavers Book of the Year". BBC News. 22 December 2014 . Retrieved 23 December 2014. Filled with glorious full-colour illustrations by award-winning Olivia Lomenech Gill, this astonishing retelling of Greek myth is perfect for readers of Circe and The Silence of the Girls. Illuminating the girl behind the legend, it brings alive Medusa for a new generation. From Goodreads. Jessie’s inclusion of personalities for Medusa’s snakes of Echo, Daphne, Callisto (her most prominent snakes) was utterly ingenious and absolutely refreshing;but of all her snakes I’d have to say sweet little Echo was my favourite.
Beautiful, captivating and fascinating as a retelling of Medusa, however, the standout from the book are the poignant messages, fables and life lessons that are subtly interspersed through the story. Apart from the often-told horrors of rape, and stories of abandonment, male dominance, and deception, we see a coming-of-age of a girl disfigured and wrongly accused by the people who should be protecting her. The way Burton captured the sentiment around all these themes was extraordinary yet simple, although they did stir up strong emotions. Also, most of the book is told in conversation format. So a lot of the significant events in Medusa’s mythos don’t actually *happen* in this book - Medusa just talks about when they happened. It was an interesting stylistic choice, and perhaps it works for some, but not for me - it made me a little bored, to be honest. (Very literal example of someone TELLING and not SHOWING).
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Amy Key’s Arrangements in Blue, a unique, intimate memoir about building a beautiful life without prioritising romantic love, or focusing on received ideas of success. As always, I prefer the original Greek myth, which didn’t have any involvement from Poseidon, but instead focused on Medusa’s innate power that came from being born the mortal Gorgon. However, I think Burton did a great job of blending the various interpretations in hers, both from the Greek original as well as from Ovid’s more popularised Roman retelling. Burton’s retelling read like a faery tale, its lyrical tone pulling me along on Medusa’s journey.