Four years have passed since Athena cursed Medusa, turning her hair to snakes. "Woe betide any man fool enough to look upon you now!" Athena warned, not explaining further. Medusa fled to an island with her sisters, where they remained alone--until Perseus sails ashore. The lonely, 18-year-old Medusa "wants to eat him up like honey cake," but she convinces him to keep his distance as they talk. He reveals that he's on a mission to stop a king from forcing his mother to marry him. Medusa has a similar story: "her own space... [was] invaded inch by inch by a man." For the first time, she wants to share that story, but she worries about how her desperation to feel understood makes her so willing to trust a stranger.
A fiercely feminist undercurrent fuels Medusa's unflinching voice. Her experience encapsulates the way sexual assault victims are blamed by others ("Flaunting her curves all right, but won't give him what he wants") or themselves ("Had I been doing anything to provoke him?"). Medusa is working to reclaim her body and agency--to let herself love a boy who makes her laugh for the first time in years. Burton's hard-hitting lyrical prose is accompanied by stunning artwork by Olivia Lomenech Gill (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them illustrator) that is reminiscent of vintage seafarers' sketchbooks. Medusa has a fervent, fortifying message: everyone deserves to carve and keep their own space in this world. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer