Corydon & The Island of Monsters by Tobias Druitt

Corydon and the Island of Monsters (Corydon Trilogy) is another young adult book I picked up in the discount section of Half-Price Books. It too deals with mythology and offers a non-traditional take (are you noticing a pattern?).

Here is the synopsis courtesy of the publisher:

A young shepherd, Corydon, is driven out of his village because of his unusual appearance and then captured and put on display as a monster. Alongside him in the traveling freak show are Medusa, the Minotaur, the Sphinx, and other classical beasts. When Corydon helps these monsters to escape their cages, they scatter to seek peace and solitude away from prying eyes. But then an army of “heroes” arrives hoping to win glory by killing the monsters, and Corydon must unite these unloved and unlikely allies to fight for their survival and for their island home.

It caught my attention for the above reasons, but also because Tobias Druitt is the pen name of a mother and son team – the mother Oxford Don and her still in school son.  It turned out to be an interesting twist on the Greek Myths – the monsters are the good guys. It pits the Olympian gods against the Chthonic gods.

The story is a little uneven in parts – mostly because it seems unsure of what type of story it is – a serious or semi-comic reworking of Greek mythology in a YA fantasy. But what saves it is the character of Corydon and his interaction with the monsters.

Corydon is the type of character you root for: sincere, loyal, generous, and brave despite his rough life and seeming inability to fit into normal society. There is a certain amount of cheesiness in the “all the misfits unite to defend themselves” story but for the most part it works.

While it isn’t deep literature the characters are interesting. The monsters become more than just symbols but characters with personalities and feelings. And the twist on the normal portrayal of the heros and Olympians proved interesting.

All in all an uneven but imaginative and entertaining first book in this trilogy. It will be interesting to see how the series develops.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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