cover image The Witch of Colchis

The Witch of Colchis

Rosie Hewlett. Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99 trade paper (464p) ISBN 978-1-7282-9901-3

Hewlett (Medusa) reconsiders another villainess from Greek mythology in this astute and empathetic story of Medea, who is known for killing her two sons to spite their father. Hewlett traces the painful arc of Medea’s life, beginning with her childhood as the eldest daughter of Aeetes, king of Colchis. When all three of his children are young, Aeetes makes them watch as he beats his slaves. Medea’s brother, Apsyrtus, emulates their father’s cruelty, and she responds to his torments by turning him into a pig, leading the irate Aeetes to summon his exiled sister, Circe, to undo the spell. Medea bonds with Circe, whose tutelage comes in handy when Medea betrays her family to help Jason, her future husband, who arrives in Colchis with the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece. The magic-infused battle scenes excite (Medea conjures a salve to protect Jason from Aeetes’s fire-breathing bulls), and Hewlett shines in her characterizations, revealing how Medea’s insecurity makes her susceptible to the handsome and scheming Jason and shedding new light on her fateful response to his infidelity. This superior retelling ranks with the best of its kind. (Sept.)