THE RAPE TRIAL OF MEDUSA
Independently Published (2020)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (07/2020)
“The Rape Trial of Medusa,” by Michael Kasenow, is a trigger-warning novel crafted for our times. The story is based on Greek mythology’s Medusa, who was raped and impregnated by her brother Poseidon, god of the sea, in Athena’s temple. Legend has it that Medusa was a beautiful winged human, but Athena cursed her, turning Medusa’s hair into serpents, her face into something so hideous that anyone who looked at her would turn to stone. Medusa was beheaded by hero warrior Perseus, but her head still kept its power to turn beholders to stone.
Flash forward to modern-day New York, where Medusa’s trial begins after being secluded on an island for ages. The trial begs: Was she really raped by Poseidon, or did she seduce him? Will she earn freedom or have to return to banishment? Will her beauty be restored, or will she forever be cursed? If she wasn’t beheaded, then who was? Medusa has renowned Maggie Harper for an attorney, famous for championing and defending women’s rights. This sets the stage for a mind-bending courtroom drama worthy of the international media attention it receives.
This clever book does several things at once: Holds a mirror up to societal norms, cultural trends, and historic customs of blaming the victim for her/his attack, and for having certain attitudes toward women (appreciating them for their bodies more than their minds)–in this case, even a Greek goddess named Medusa. It also plays imaginatively with the characters and events from Greek mythology. And it offers entertainment for entertainment’s sake. Kasenow is skilled at setting up the characters, events, backstory, and trial. The plot is easy to follow and is engaging from the first pages. I like Kasenow’s energetic style, and his tactile, sensorial descriptions. It feels like a real trial–a real media event. Medusa is forced to wear a hijab for the trial and sprays an ambrosia mist on the serpents that are her hair to weaken them, and it’s little details like this that make the story come to life in a fun way.
My favorite parts are when the author blends the ancient with the modern–social media, Manhattan, etc. It’s cliche to say, but this would make a great film. I also like how he used the media as almost a character unto itself, and the influence it has on trials, public opinion, and society/culture in general. This book perfectly depicts the phrase “tried in the media.”
Medusa Gorgon is a sympathetic character. You really begin to care for her and want justice. High-profile attorney Maggie Harper is also an interesting character, who reminded me somewhat of Gloria Allred. “The Rape Trial of Medusa,” by Michael Kasenow, could be the most controversial courtroom drama of the year. 5 stars!