Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: Here, the World Entire by Anwen Hayward

Here, The World EntireHere, The World Entire by Anwen Kya Hayward
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written by someone I follow on Tumblr. She had hilarious stories about her cat on her blog, interspersed with Greek mythology. She actually posted a shorter version of this story before she turned it into a novella. So, I was very interested in reading the expanded version.

Here, The World Entire is a retelling of the Perseus myth, the part where he's tasked with retrieving Medusa's head. It's told from Medusa's perspective. Maybe that's been done before, but I've never come across it. I sincerely doubt it was so artfully done.

Medusa had a life before she became the snake-headed woman of legend, so ugly she turned men to stone. At least, in many versions of the myth, she does. This story goes with that interpretation, of the woman sworn to Athena, then betrayed by her goddess because Poseidon takes an interest in her.

And then it goes deeper. It posits that Medusa's exile is self-inflicted, because she can't stand turning people to stone. She warns people away, begs them not to look at her, and is heartbroken when they succumb to her curse. This Medusa is no monster, bent on revenge against all men for what one god did to her. She's a human, cursed by the goddess who was supposed to protect her.

The story gets into a lot of what mythology won't tell you. Myths don't depict the human view toward the gods, that they didn't worship them as all-knowing, benevolent entities. The Greek gods were viewed with dread, too, and derision. They were just as flawed as the people who worshiped them. They were just as subject to whims, or prejudices. We want to see Athena nowadays as a feminist icon, but, in the world that built her up, they assumed she hated women as much as they did. Medusa understands that, in this novella, but not until it's too late.

As much as I have a soft spot for mythology retellings, this one is beautifully done. It adds a lot to the Medusa myth, without taking away from what's already out there. I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, you will not find this book at most retailers. You'll need to order it online if you want to read it. You really should.

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