... eclectic ... MacLaughlin daringly fashions a new artistic work that transforms female characters from Ovid’s Metamorphoses into the heroes (or anti-heroes) of their own stories. While they take a feminist slant, the 34 accounts in this multivoiced mosaic, which range from a couple of pages to much longer, creatively diverge in approach and style. Some stories dazzle with their poetic eloquence, while others, written in slangy contemporary English, offer short, punchy lines and timeless themes ... The free mingling of ancient characters with elements of workaday modern life won’t please everyone, but open-minded readers should applaud the virtuosity and find much worth discovering in these memorable reinterpretations.
... a lens superheated with feminist rage. The raw, smart, outspoken result practically sears the reader's hands ... The familiar mythological figures and use of lush natural settings give the narratives a sense of antiquity, although sprinklings of modern dialogue and technology complement the material surprisingly well. The resulting sense of neutrality in time period contributes to an impression of reading adult fairy tales ... According to her author's note, MacLaughlin wrote the entire book in a three-month burst, and the finished product retains that frenetic energy of creation. Some stories hew closely enough to each other to feel somewhat repetitive. However, the fatiguing nature of reading multiple accounts of sexual assault also highlights the seriousness of the subject matter. Realizing that The Metamorphoses itself has always contained these assaults and yet remains a literary touchstone for multiple cultures will likely have a heavy emotional impact on many readers. MacLaughlin's stories are vivid, wrenching and urgent. Literary fiction readers and classics fans will not want to miss this gutsy reimagining.
... plays across the mind like a haunting melody. Employing sharp, lyrical prose ... women rupture this imposed silence, barreling out from the shadows, unapologetic and irreverent. The author splashes the pages with Callisto’s sense of betrayal ... Couched in seductive prose, Wake, Siren wages war against those who would strip women of the rights to their own stories. This is not merely a retelling of Ovid; it is a triumph of women reclaiming their voices ... Characters use contemporary speech patterns, detaching these myths from antiquity and situating them firmly in modernity ... creates a space where female characters are able to be utterly, unapologetically human.
We are reminded that human nature doesn’t change and that we tell the same stories over and over again in different settings with updated technologies, from the oral tradition to email exchanges. That these tales are still part of our cultural imagination speaks to their timelessness and enduring power ... Though some of the stories feel overly experimental and some retellings work better than others, this reenvisioning of Ovid’s immortal work offers passages of unforgettable beauty and much strength in the voices of women trying to become themselves.
These settings are largely unmoored from traditional chronology, borrowing freely from both classical tropes and contemporary popular culture ... There is nevertheless a certain sameness to many of the stories, perhaps unavoidable in such a project, but MacLaughlin largely succeeds in varying the recurrent themes of sexual violence and women’s subsequent rage and inevitable transformations, largely imposed by gods to ensure women’s silence ... MacLaughlin skillfully elevates what could have been merely a writerly exercise, instead composing a chorus of women’s justifiable rage echoing down through the millennia.
MacLaughlin succeeds in making these stories fresh and distinct by allowing her protagonists to speak in their own voices. This creates stylistic variety across stories, but it also makes a powerful point ... Some of these stories have distinctly modern touches—Galatea faints at a 7-Eleven because she’s been on a fasting cleanse—but these moments only reinforce a sense of timelessness. There have always been men who will not hear when women speak ... Vital, vivid, and angry.