Thursday, February 9, 2023

Review: The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mythology
Published: February 21, 2023
Pages: 304

Nationally bestselling author of Daughters of Sparta Claire Heywood returns with an imaginative and female-centered reinterpretation of the myth of the great hero Perseus, told through the voices of three women who are sidelined in the traditional version—his mother, Danae; his trophy, Medusa; and his wife, Andromeda—but whose viewpoints reveal a man who is not, in fact, a hero at all.

Danae: Banished from her homeland thanks to a prophecy foretelling that her unborn child will one day cause the death of her father, the king of Argos, Danae finds herself stranded, pregnant, and alone in a remote fishing village. It’s a harsh new world for a young woman who grew up as a coddled princess, and forging a new life for herself and for her young son Perseus will be the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Medusa: As a member of a reclusive band of women who live deep in the woods, known as the Gorgons, Medusa has eschewed all contact with the outside world. That is, until the day she finds an injured boy named Perseus in the forest.

Andromeda: When a harsh sandstorm threatens to destroy her nomadic desert tribe’s way of life, Andromeda knows that a sacrifice will be required to appease the gods and end the storm. But when a forceful young Perseus interferes, Andromeda’s life is set on an entirely new path.
As Perseus becomes increasingly obsessed with the promise of his own destiny, his heroic journey casts a shadow of violence and destruction across all three women’s lives. But even as he tries to silence them, the women may find that reclaiming their voices is their only hope for lifting themselves into a better future.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley. This is my honest review. 

This is a tale of toxic masculinity told through the eyes of women who were most affected by it. It really takes the tale of the heroic Perseus as we know it and brings it into reality, or at least a passing semblance of reality, possible reality if you will. It's almost like the myths of Perseus were the locker room talk of a very fragile man. While that's not something I'd ever considered before, it doesn't feel like a leap at all. While I know we'll never really know how things went down, this felt so plausible. 

This story made me way more interested in the life of Medusa than I originally was, and I wish I could've seen more from her here, but well, her story was cut short. The entire Gorgon settlement and what led the women there was heartbreaking, and yet I'd read a whole book about it in this world crafted by Ms. Heywood. There's still so much depth that could be explored there. Really if Ms. Heywood wanted to rewrite all the myths this way, I'd be all over reading every single one of them. 

Overall I give this book 4.57 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

Claire Heywood is a scholar of the ancient world, having gained a 1st Class BA in Classical Civilisation and an MA with Distinction in Ancient Visual and Material Culture, along with two academic prizes, from the University of Warwick. Her writing is inspired by her love of Greek mythology, her knowledge of ancient cultures, and her fascination with women's forgotten voices. Her first novel, Daughters of Sparta, is a vivid retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of two key female characters, Helen of Troy and her sister Klytemnestra. Formerly a professional tour guide at the Roman Baths museum in Bath, she now writes full time.

1 comment:

  1. Ooohhh! I love mythology and I love the feminist vibe this over seems to have!