Book Review: Stone Blind, Medusa's Story by Natalie Haynes
Updated: Jun 30
Medusa is well known as a monster with snakes for hair and a deadly stare. But, to quote Natalie Haynes's Greek myth retelling, “We’ll see about that.” Stone Blind tells the story of a teenage girl punished by a goddess for a crime committed not by her, but against them both.
Medusa lives with her two gorgon sisters--tusked, winged creatures with snakes for hair. But the only gorgon quality she shares with them is the wings. She is young, beautiful, and mortal. And it is not long before she catches the eye of the sea god, Poseidon, who does not ask for what he wants; he only takes it.
Haynes fleshes out Medusa’s story from the perspectives of many other women, both mortal and immortal (as well as a Greek chorus of nymphs, trees, and animals who drop in to add their perspectives). It is through the women’s eyes that we see the gods Zeus and Poseidon, not philandering husbands but serial rapists, as well as hapless Perseus, struggling toward manhood in a culture of toxic masculinity.
Stone Blind delves into the deeply problematic tropes of Greek mythology that are sadly still too common in a post #MeToo world. Rich in symbolism, Medusa’s story unflinchingly asks tough questions: What are the consequences of trauma, especially when one survivor inflicts it on another? Who decides what makes a monster? And what is the difference between a hero and a murderer? Haynes’ characters, whether squabbling, self-absorbed immortals, anxious, flawed parents, or ordinary, confused teenagers, are heartbreakingly human. Her voice is sharp, original, fierce, and funny, and the result is a devastating take on an all too familiar tale.
Format note: I listened to the audiobook featuring the author’s superb narration, and I cannot recommend this version enough. However, I’d happily revisit it in any format.
You can buy the book HERE.
Lissa Sloan is the author of Glass and Feathers, a novel that tells the story of Cinderella after the “happily ever after.” The Enchanted Press will publish it next February.