I have always loved Greek Mythology. One of my first books I remember receiving was Kate McMullan’s Say Cheese Medusa! and since finding the ‘Lore Olympus‘ webtoon online, I’ve gobbled up those episodes like the most dedicated Kardashian fan.
So, when J.S. Frankel reached out to me about his book, What the Gods Allow, I knew I had to read it, and I was not disappointed. Now, I’ve gone down the wiki-rabbit-hole about Medusa and other mythical beings before–I’ve heard everything from the standard “she was a monster!” to “she’s a feminist icon whose image marked ancient women’s centers.” Every iteration is a little different but gives a fresh perspective on this stone-staring woman…and I love it!
Ooh, and here’s a link to the vlog too!
In Frankel’s version, Medusa really isn’t that bad (which aligns with my personal belief of her *cue a fist bump*). Sure, she did kill a bunch of men back in the day–but it wasn’t totally her fault, it was more self defense, most of the time, and she sure didn’t eat men like everyone else in her family. Despite this, upon her decapitation (thanks Perseus) she was sent down to the pits of Tartarus for a few millennia, only to be released at the request of Zeus (and to a lesser degree, Hera–for the record, I never cared for her, except the Disney version) because his daughter Eris has escaped to p. If Medusa succeeds in bringing the goddess of chaos home, she gains her freedom, if she fails, she goes back to Tartarus.
This is a story about purpose, identity, love, truth–it’s great! Frankel is a talented author who knows how to proportion description to action; fast-pacing to slow–I was engaged the entire time and anxious to find out what happened next. I loved Medusa’s self-reflectiveless, trying to figure out if she was really a monster versus if she was forced into monstrous behavior. I loved how she debated with herself–and others–about the merits of modernity versus tradition. I loved her interactions with Sam, a blind boy who is instrumental in her return(s) to the mortal world. It’s so good, you just have to read it.
I can’t think of really any reason why you wouldn’t like the book. There are a couple of muggings/attempted assaults, but they aren’t overly graphic, so I don’t think those would be too big of a trigger for readers. This is a fresh take on an old story that’s been pulled into the modern world and it’s excellent.