Protectress review in Kirkus

Protectress just got reviewed by Kirkus! Here’s what they had to say:

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.

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