Burton to reimagine Medusa myth in 'empowering' YA

Burton to reimagine Medusa myth in 'empowering' YA

Jessie Burton will retell the Medusa myth in an "empowering" YA title for Bloomsbury exploring themes of "toxic masculinity and the meaning of consent".

The Miniaturist author's second children’s novel, Medusa, will be published in October 2020 as a hardback gift edition by Bloomsbury Children’s Books. 

Ellen Holgate, editorial director for Bloomsbury Children’s Fiction, acquired world rights in all languages from Juliet Mushens of Caskie Mushens for two children’s titles from Burton last year. It was revealed in September that the first title The Restless Girls would be a feminist reimagining of the Grimms’ fairytale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” to be published in September 2018.

Burton, whose debut The Miniaturist (Pan Macmillan) was published in 2014, said that she "wanted to reclaim Medusa's story and invite the reader into her mind” to explore gender politics following the sexual harassment claims faced by US film director Harvey Weinstein and many other powerful men.

Burton said: "So often [Medusa’s] robbed of agency, turned into a monster, and used as a stepping stone for heroes. The myth of Medusa is a tale of objectification and toxic masculinity, and the meaning of consent. Given the continuing revelations about men like Weinstein and (US president Donald) Trump, and others we have each encountered on our way through life, Medusa's myth is ripe for the retelling."

Burton decided to turn her hand to children’s books after Bloomsbury Children’s Books’ editorial director Ellen Holgate approached her with the idea of rewriting the role women and girls played in popular fairytales. 

"Jessie’s Medusa is gripping, lyrical and empowering," Holgate said. "With this story, and The Restless Girls, she has created much-needed role models from maligned and overlooked female fictional characters. I envy the readers who grow up with these fabulous retellings where women and girls finally get to give us their perspective." 

Picador announced it had signed two more adult novels from Burton in August.