Review: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

I’ve been on a bit of a Medusa kick lately, and Stone Blind was Christmas present from my parents last year, and I was excited enough to move it up on my TBR pile. Worth it.

Stone Blind isn’t just the story of Medusa or Perseus or even Danae: it’s a clever and fun wholistic view of the events in the Perseus mythological cycle from multiple sources. Athena has a strong voice, as do Medusa’s sisters, Andromeda, Hera, and even the snakes on Medusa’s head. Haynes explores the older versions of the myths through these interconnected stories and scenes, answering many of the “hows” and “but WHYs” within the narrative in ways that keep the original stories intact.

Medusa’s birth and her relationships (or lack thereof) with her sisters and parents give a solid foundation for why she was in Athena’s temple the day Poseidon attacked her. Her actions afterward fit with the culture established in the background, as did her reaction to Athena’s curse. I wish there had been a little more of Medusa’s inner world when she was the mortal girl growing up with two immortal sisters: there are moments where she feels more like a prop than a full character in her story. Overall the story is focused on interactions between immortals and mortals and how that rarely works out well.

Natalie Haynes blends sarcasm, wit, and some exasperation for Perseus’s ridiculous behavior in her retelling of Medusa’s myth cycle, and it is wonderful. I love that she went back to the story of how Athena came to be, how Zeus orders Athena and Hermes to help his son, Perseus, even though the boy is completely inept and…well, he’s significantly less than Mensa material. I particularly enjoyed the capriciousness and total oblivious attitude the gods have for humans.

Unexpectedly funny as hell (I didn’t know Natalie Haynes is also a comedian until after I’d read it), Stone Blind is worth reading for the Perseus/Athena/Hermes scenes alone. I snort-laughed more than once. It was a fun, light read, which surprised me considering the subject matter involved. Haynes has the perfect combination of compassion, derision, grief, exhaustion, and humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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