Medusa by Jessie Burton (due out 28 Oct 2021) Illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill

Exiled, with her sisters, to a far-flung island by the whims of the gods, Medusa has little company except the snakes that adorn her head instead of hair. But when a charming boy called Perseus arrives on the island, lost as he sails the seas on a quest to save his mother, her lonely existence is disrupted with the force of a supernova, unleashing desire, love and betrayal…

The stunning illustrations throughout the book, by Olivia Lomenech Gill really being the island world of Medusa alive.

Jessie Burton has retold this myth superbly, bring it bang up to date with the feminist slant it very much needed. It is told from the view point of Medusa and because of this, the themes come across much more emotionally and with impact.

As Medusa and Perseus gradually tell each other their reasons for being on this far-flung island, we can see that perception of themselves and others is a very personal thing. Perseus holds Poseidon in high regard, Medusa hates him with a vengeance. Similarly, their views on Athena differ too.

There are strong themes of self worth, perception of how you are viewed by others and how this affects your behaviours and attitudes, how the opinions (real or perceived) of others impact on you and ultimately change you.

There are strong themes of consent and respect. Medusa’s feelings of how Poseidon should have behaved towards her (as opposed to abusing his power) and how she was not to blame are deeply felt. Her sisters’ allyship is strong but not all other women are her ally. Athena’s use of privilege and power are selectively abusive.

The promises we make…do we actually know what we are promising at the time? Open ended promises are not always good ones.

Throughout the retelling, Medusa’s view of herself, others in her life and her awareness of how the rest of the world perceives her opens up opportunities for conversations to be had. Important conversations.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the eARC review copy.