cover image Medusa


Jessie Burton, illus. by Olivia Lomenech Gill. Bloomsbury, $19.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5476-0759-4

In this haunting reimagining of the myth of Medusa and Perseus, Burton (The Confession) positions the pair as teenagers swept up in the capricious gods’ machinations, struggling to defy the destinies thrust upon them. Medusa has been living with her sisters on a secluded island, ever since her transformation into a snake-tressed girl, when Perseus docks his boat on her shore. Without ever seeing each other directly, the 18-year-olds, portrayed with light brown skin, strike up a friendship, over several days sharing their respective hurts and hopes—though Medusa holds back the exact nature of her curse, afraid of how she might be perceived. But as they open their hearts to one another, the shadows of Athena and Poseidon loom, ready to turn a romance into a tragedy. Burton’s take on the traditional adversaries humanizes both characters, blurring boundaries between hero and monster. In particular, Burton is clear to blame the gods for their own actions, especially Poseidon’s sexual assault of Medusa at age 14. Medusa’s first-person voice is formally distant, hinting at her inner turmoil and experiences with misogynistic double standards. Lomenech Gill’s (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) angular, full-color illustrations add another layer of depth to the story. Ages 14–up. Agent: Juliet Mushens, Mushens Entertainment. (Jan).