Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

Stone Blind is a novel that tells the story of Medusa, from childhood to the aftermath of her beheading at the hands of a hero. With her two immortal Gorgon sisters, Medusa grows up feeling different, feeling weaker and more fragile than them. When Medusa is assaulted by Poseidon in a temple dedicated to Athene, Medusa bears the consequences, changed into someone more dangerous and more damaged, with the ability to turn any living creature to stone. But Medusa cannot live quietly, as a young son of Zeus on a quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon and aided by the gods will soon cross her path.

Haynes combines a multiplicity of voices to tell this story, weaving together the different narratives and perspectives of mortals and gods to question not only the image of Medusa as a monster, but roles of everyone in the story and the dangers of rage and revenge when directed at the wrong people. The short sections from various perspectives and with different tones work well, getting across the various strands that cause the narrative tension, and there’s a particular perspective which talks to the reader in a knowing way, highlighting the retelling aspect and the fact that readers may already know a lot of the story. It took a bit of time to get into and I found the pace a bit slow for me near the start, but as it went on it started to come together.

There’s a lot of Greek mythology retellings out there now (some also by Haynes) and this feels similar to others, with a knowing edge and focusing on the injustice of who is seen as a “monster” and who is seen as a “hero”. Fans of the genre will probably like this one as well, which looks not only at Medusa’s treatment, but also at women fighting against being forced to marry someone they don’t want to and the impact of immortals acting based on whim or petty jealousy. Personally, I think I’m perhaps not so engaged with the feminist retellings of Greek mythology now there’s been so many, so it took me longer to get into this one, but I liked the use of voice and perspective.