A clever, illuminating feminist take on Greek mythology.


In this ingenious novella-length prose poem by Leonard, Medusa finds herself at the epicenter of a modern-day feminist power struggle.

“Medusa was raped. / Medusa was not raped. / Medusa was given rohypnol,” read the opening lines of the prelude to this contemporary retake on Greek mythology. The language addresses issues of rape culture, particularly the way survivors are scrutinized rather than protected in the press and social media. Enter Medusa, known as Duse to her friends. She and her gorgon sisters inhabit the city and work regular jobs. Medusa happens to be a humanities professor, but she’s also a guardian of women (“Like Batman, she will always be a vigilante”). But the famous gorgon has a problem; Athena is coming for her. Here, Athena is a symbol of “misplaced feminism”—a goddess who favors and supports the patriarchy. Medusa wants Athena to change voluntarily and feel remorse for the harm that she, as a “slut-shaming bitch,” has caused other women. A confrontation between Duse and Athena comes in the form of an assembly attended by all manner of mythical beings. Leonard’s novella astutely examines the consequences of “cruelty between women.” Leonard’s message is a positive one of compassion and self-empowerment—and this resonates in her simple, stirring use of language: Medusa chooses to forge “a path from the past to power.” And goddess Hera says, “I can create real sanctuaries for women, places of protection, ways of power.” This book urges women to care for one another and reconsider the ways their perceptions of female identity are shaped. Fans of contemporary rewrites of ancient mythology, like Margaret Atwood’s exploration of society’s double standards regarding women in The Penelopiad (2005), will be particularly intrigued by this astute debut offering by Leonard. And although some knowledge of the classics would be helpful, newcomers can still enjoy a captivating storyline.

A clever, illuminating feminist take on Greek mythology.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 9781950730636

Page Count: 208

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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