Oh my heart. I loved this story so much. I’m a sucker for mythological retellings, ones that show our monsters and our heroes from other sides. I loved this even more because I didn’t know who Asterion was, and I didn’t need to, really. I didn’t know the name. But I knew the character. I soon caught on through contextual clues, but I love that I didn’t know through his entire first section, preventing me from coming to the story with any preconceived ideas. This probably would not be the case for many readers, but it worked for me. So I won’t tell you. Even if you already know just from what I’ve said.
The story orients us to Asterion by presenting him first, and telling his side through second person, as if the narrator is also addressing the you of the reader, bringing us within his sphere. We can imagine his thoughts, we don’t balk at his agency. It allowed me to encounter Asterion fully, to have empathy for this character who is an outsider and who feels deeply.
I feel ashamed to admit that if the King’s ugly daughter likewise comes from a named mythological character, I don’t know it. She seemed more of a patchwork creation to me, comprised of bits of other characters. Perhaps the moreso because she is unnamed in the story. There are opportunities for deeper interpretation just within that.
Regardless, they play off of each other beautifully, these two creatures who defy categorization of and social box or binary. I simply adored this story.