“I see you. I see all those who men call monsters. And I see the men who call them that. Call themselves heroes, of course.”
The story of Medusa isn’t about just Medusa. It could never be just about Medusa because mythology weaves in and out. The gods and goddesses, the Fates and Greys and sea nymphs, the mortals and the snakes – their stories weep and bleed into each other with each rape, each prophecy, each punishment, each sacrifice. And so, it’s fitting that Natalie Haynes’ Stone Blind (Harper Collins 2022) casts a wide net in telling the story of the woman who could turn you to stone with just one look.
And it’s fitting that the novel begins with “I see you.”
As I was reading, I kept finding myself being reminded of Beowulf’s Grendel and the similar sympathies that character evoked in the reader, but you will fall far more in love with Medusa. Our Gorgoneion narrator wouldn’t allow otherwise. In addition to the Gorgoneion, who addresses the reader directly, there are sections about Medusa, Hera, Danae, Cassiope, Medusa’s sisters, Perseus, Andromeda, the snakes that grow from Medusa’s head, etc. There are also sections for those turned to stone. Those are perhaps my favorite. But this is Athene’s story as much as Medusa’s, and her sections are plentiful.
Drawing from mythology, the pages unflinchingly depict rape, destruction, jealousy, and pettiness. From a child born from the semen spent on Athene during an unwelcomed assault to the rape of a 16-year-old in Athene’s temple, women are repeatedly used, abused, and discarded – with “heroes” being “born” from their assaults.
And then there’s Medusa, who reminds us that sometimes it’s the hero who is the monster, and the “monster” is “what happens when someone cannot be saved.”
Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, Stone Blind is funny, bittersweet, and full of rage.
Read this book.
One thought on “STONE BLIND – Natalie Haynes”
This sounds amazing! Definitely adding it to my tbr. Great review!