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Guest Review: Literace Reviews: Shadow of Perseus by Clare Heywood

Shadow of Perseus by Clare Heywood is an incredibly clever retelling of the stories of Perseus. It sets itself apart from other retellings in how Heywood breaks down and analyzes the actions of a so-called “hero” from the point of view of the women most impacted by them. Continue reading to see the rest of my review of this new release.


Danae: Banished from her homeland thanks to a prophecy foretelling that her unborn child will one day cause the death of her father, the king of Argos, Danae finds herself stranded, pregnant, and alone in a remote fishing village. It’s a harsh new world for a young woman who grew up as a coddled princess, and forging a new life for herself and for her young son Perseus will be the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Medusa: As a member of a reclusive band of women who live deep in the woods, known as the Gorgons, Medusa has eschewed all contact with the outside world. That is, until the day she finds an injured boy named Perseus in the forest.

Andromeda: When a harsh sandstorm threatens to destroy her nomadic desert tribe’s way of life, Andromeda knows that a sacrifice will be required to appease the gods and end the storm. But when a forceful young Perseus interferes, Andromeda’s life is set on an entirely new path.

As Perseus becomes increasingly obsessed with the promise of his own destiny, his heroic journey casts a shadow of violence and destruction across all three women’s lives. But even as he tries to silence them, the women may find that reclaiming their voices is their only hope for lifting themselves into a better future.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)


I know many people may be just OVER retellings. Honestly, I spent years of my life in the Classical academic world, so I do not think I will ever be. Heywood does something different from other Graeco-Roman retellings. Like many, it is from the point of view of the women in Perseus’ life – his mother, Danae; the “monster,” Medusa; and his wife, Andromeda.

Shadow of Perseus removes the mythical elements that are used to romanticize the epic hero, Perseus. I loved how Heywood twisted the classical mythic stories to remove the justification of many of Perseus’ actions. 

Silent Histories

Part of what also makes me continue to enjoy these retellings from the female perspective is the idea of “silent histories.” Although the story of Perseus is not a story with historical evidence, it can still be viewed through the lens of “history is written by the victors.” In nearly all Graeco-Roman mythology it is focused on the male hero. Shadow of Perseus gives a voice to the women of the time. Heywood highlights their experiences and how heroic actions through the POV of someone else could be monstrous. 


Shadow of Perseus is an exciting take on the non-mythical retellings of mythological figures. It causes you to really rethink all the stories containing a damsel in distress. Honestly, what happens to Zeus’ victims after they give birth to their demigod child? Also, are these mythological monsters real, or hyperbole of power-hungry individuals? This makes me very interested in reading Heywood’s other novel about Helen and Klytemnestra.  

Find Shadow of Perseus on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository


Are you over retellings of stories, such as those of the Graeco-Roman world, Baba Yaga, the Ramayana, etc.? Or do you want more?

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