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Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth (Illustrated Gift Edition)

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Stalked by Poseidon she is sexually abused by him in Athena’s temple but far from sympathy you would expect from Athena, instead the goddess turns her beautiful hair to a mass of venomous snakes with a promise “woe betide any man fool enough to look upon you now”. With unforgettable imagery and a powerhouse woman at the helm of the tale, this revamped myth is one to get on your bookshelf. In this version of the story, told from Medusa’s point of view rather than from that of Perseus, and using the Greek names in spite of borrowing heavily from Ovid, Medusa is the only Gorgon with snakes for hair, while her sisters, Stheno and Euryale, are the only members of the trio to have wings. Medusa by Jessie Burton gives us a compelling spin on the legend of the snake-haired girl whose gaze turns onlookers to stone. Desires awoken, Medusa won’t reveal her name, or let him see her: “I was just going to sit on the other side of this entrance rock and pretend that boys like him washed up on desert islands all the time.

With Jessie Burton's characteristic lyrical and beautiful writing matched by stunning illustrations, I loved this story of survival, healing and bravery of all kinds. Medusa, a name that became synonymous with monster, has been depicted in history both as a hideous beast and a great beauty even with her snake hair and lethal gaze. Her second book, The Muse, set in a dual time-frame, during the Spanish Civil War and 30 years later in 1960s London, was published in 2016. Athena becomes her best friend and first crush, and together they form a duo which is ripped apart by circumstance, leaving Nuala unprotected, unable to save herself.Her story of being cursed to be a monster with snakes for hair and causing people to turn to stone by looking at her as punishment from Athena for being raped in her temple by Poseidon makes me so very angry. Jessie Burton’s retelling, Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth, is aimed at YA readers, and there’s a graphic novel vibe to its bold jacket, from which its protagonist stares out, defiant and compelling (only beneath the dust jacket are those legendary asps visible). One day a young man lands on the island as if blown off course, but armed with his sword, shield and winged sandals all kept covered on his boat. I am telling you this because you need to understand what happened when Perseus turned up on my island.

Though certain versions came to dominate, there was no canonical account of “the Greek myths”, even in antiquity. Finance is provided by PayPal Credit (a trading name of PayPal UK Ltd, Whittaker House, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond-Upon-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, TW9 1EH). Perseus' description of [Medusa] as a poet is also true of Burton's prose; aquatic and mythical but not overwrought, its beauty is reflected in Gill's sublime full-page illustrations. because of this, medusa is reduced to just a minor player in the gods lives, rather than her being the story itself. Higgins seeks to reassert it here, depicting Helen of Troy sitting at her loom, weaving images of the war for which she was a pretext – “there was always an excuse for war, some symbol or stand-in.Taking her lead from the likes of Pat Barker and Madeline Miller, Higgins’s Greek Myths: A New Retelling is narrated by female characters. This was one of - if not the best - Medusa retelling I’d read in years and I highly recommend it to those wanting a fresh take on her myth.

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