Author: E.B. Black
Publication date: November 22, 2012
Rating: 3 stars
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When Medusa was beautiful, finding a man to love her was easy. Poseidon fought for glances from her heavy-lidded eyes against hundreds of suitors who proposed whenever she left her house.
Athena grew jealous. She allowed Medusa to be violated in the Parthenon and turned her into a monster for her indiscretion.
Now when she stares into the eyes of men, they scream as their skin hardens into stone. A caress against her cheek will be rewarded with the poisonous bites of the snakes that slither on her head.
No man is brave enough to approach her, until Perseus is ordered by the gods to kill her.
When they meet, desire sizzles between them. They are willing to risk it all-death, the wrath of the gods, the destruction of their families-if it means they can spend one more night together.
This is not a book that I normally would've picked up, but, nevertheless, I was blown away by E.B. Black's unique take on the well-known Medusa myth.
Before she became the fearsome gorgon of Greek mythology, Medusa was the beautiful daughter of a gambler, forced to do many of less than honorable things to keep her her family from drowning in debt. Yet despite her family's financial situation, she refused to marry a man for money, refused to give anyone that kind of power over her. Medusa worshipped the gods and looked up to Athena more than anyone. But all that changed when Poseidon raped her in the temple of Athena.
As the story goes, Medusa's hair turned to snakes, her body became covered in scales, and her gaze could turn anyone to stone. She is banished to the Underworld, where she waits for the blessing of death, until Perseus comes, at the order of the gods, to kill her. Only instead of killing her, he falls in love with her. In this retelling, Medusa's death is faked and Perseus takes her back into the human world for a second chance at life and love.
I really liked the evolution of Medusa's character throughout the story, from the innocent yet stubborn human girl to the monster trying desperately to retain her humanity. This story was an emotional roller coaster, both for me as the reader and for Medusa as the main character. Her journey felt like one tragedy after another; each time something good happened to her, it was only a matter of time before she lost it. It was hard not to root for her happiness.
However, I am one of those people who needs to have strong, developed characters to really love a book, and in the case of Medusa's Desire, I felt like the majority of the characters were quite flat and hard to relate to. It wasn't that they weren't tested enough to show growth, it's simply that I thought they did certain things because they had to in order to move the story along, not because it fit with their characterization. The reasons behind their actions seemed too weak to be plausible. And--I'm pretty sure this is just a strange peeve of mine--I was really annoyed by the fact that Medusa would constantly refer to Perseus as her boyfriend. Honestly, in the grand scheme of things, this detail is pretty minor, but for some reason it just bothered me. "Boyfriend" is such a contemporary term that it was hard for me to think of the story as having happened in ancient Greece, but I also couldn't think of the setting as present day so it was..... very jarring.
In terms of mythology, I think Black did an incredible job of retaining the original Medusa myth, but spinning it in an extremely unexpected and original way. I also enjoyed how many other aspects of mythology were incorporated into this one story-- from Hades and Persephone, the "birth" of Pegasus and Chrysaor, and even the creation of vampires. I definitely didn't see that last one coming, but I enjoyed how it all came together, nonetheless.
All in all: I think anyone who likes Greek mythology and its various retellings would enjoy this story, and if you like romance too, then there's a bonus. There is some mature content in the book though, so I wouldn't recommend this for all ages.