From amy B, Reviewer at NetGalley, Four stars out of Five
Overall, this felt like a refreshing take on the legend of Medousa, and examining through fiction how some of the myths about her may have come about. There is experience of madness through essentially the solitary confinement of not being able to interact with other beings. She also learns over time to control both her anger and urge to lash out – both as a human and later as a Gorgon, when she learns to leash her fatal power.
Large amounts of pain and suffering form Medousa’s tale, with times of joy and repose. Sensual without being graphic, there are lovely bits depicting the love, romance and sexual relationship between Medousa and Cynisca as young mortal women. Love, longing, and the sadness of missing an absent lover are major threads woven throughout.
Slavery, and the desire for being able to decide her life for herself are major issues for Medousa early in the novel. Once her freedom is won, she is still constrained through societal expectations, including those who knew her while she was still a slave, and her own ingrained attitudes from living as a slave.
The casual sexual assault and harassment was something I could read through, but the author’s portrayal of Athena’s response to the rape of Medousa in her temple I found really difficult to deal with, due to how I have experienced and heard others recount people reacting to sexual assault and rape in real life. While it reflects Ovid’s telling, (which I had forgotten about in the intervening years), the sheer victim blaming of her words is brutal.
While horrific and hard to deal with, it does remind the reader that the Greek Pantheon of Goddesses and Gods were not only the positive aspects commonly associated and interpetted in beginner neo-Pagan and New Age books, but also the sheer brutality contained within mythology and poetry that tends to get edited out in reinterpretations or versions parsed for high school audiences. (Granted, there is a whole other discussion about male authorship and misogyny in classical Greek texts).
For anyone dealing with issues around experienced sexual harassment, assault, or rape, the victim blaming of other characters (and at times, from Medousa towards herself) may be difficult to read, especially pronouncements from characters on her guilt of simply existing provoking or being responsible for the attack.