Stone Blind is the first novel by Natalie Haynes I’ve read and I came to it without expectations or pre-conceived ideas. Billed as the story of Medusa, the mortal raped by a god and turned into a Gorgon with a writhing head of snakes, this is in fact a much broader tale of Greek gods, goddesses and myths. Medusa is featured but is not prominent until the final third. A fleeting appearance and a disappointment I didn’t recover from. A story of the abuse of power and privilege, of trickery and arrogance, mostly of men against women, this heaviness is leavened with wit and a modern feminist voice. It is the tale of assorted women, goddesses and mortals and their places in their worlds alongside men. In a complex weaving of many stories and narrators, this is a novel to read with your full attention. I felt it drag in the middle, perhaps my concentration wavered, perhaps the thin presence of Medusa began to weigh on me. Oh how I wanted more about Medusa and her Gorgon sisters, Euryale and Stheno, and less squabbles, battles and jealousies of so many immortals and their offspring.
Haynes examines the question, what makes a monster and who decides. She updates the relevance of Medusa and Perseus and questions the very idea that the Gorgons were monstrous. So, an ambitious tale in breadth – perhaps too ambitious – but with some feminist lines to remember. ‘So to mortal men, we are monsters. Because of our teeth, our flight, our strength. They fear us, so they call us monsters.’
There are so many books out there that are fictionalised re-tellings of the Greek myths that we’re spoilt for choice. Will I read another by Haynes? I’m not sure, not for a while.
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If you like this, try:-
‘The Silence of the Girls’ by Pat Barker
‘The Women of Troy’ by Pat Barker
‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller
And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
STONE BLIND by @officialnhaynes #bookreview https://wp.me/p2ZHJe-64w via @SandraDanby