Like the ancient texts he is inspired by, Mason humanizes each figure, whether godly or mortal ... some familiarity with these myths is helpful, particularly in order to appreciate his changes. A fractured, multilayered text reminiscent of Alan Lightman’s classic Einstein’s Dreams (1992) and similar to Madeline Miller’s similarly themed Song of Achilles (2012), Mason’s novel is written in beautiful prose that almost reads like blank verse. Mason once again displays his ability to transform classical creations into a tale that is distinctly his own.
The title of his new work, Metamorphica, nods to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Ovid bookends the collection ... Mason’s central theme: Where we may expect to find meaning, there is none. The lesson can feel profound or sophomoric, depending on how much patience you have for this kind of thing ... Mason takes the memorable female characters of classical myth—goddesses, prophets, rape victims, noble heroines, killers of family members, witches, Amazons, adulteresses and athletes—and turns them into ciphers ... he also reduces female agency to more or less nothing ... Mason’s male characters live almost equally meaningless lives ... Zeus is a serial rapist, and Mason provides disturbingly lyrical descriptions of his abusive pleasure ... The Greek myths, in Mason’s hands, are...a vast set of items to collect and catalog, offering glimpses of a pattern, and a bleakly comforting escape from the world of feelings and human beings.
Using constellations as a framing device, Mason writes each account as its own self-contained myth, but in aggregation the stories form imaginary lines that constitute a pattern ... Classicists and readers familiar with the Metamorphoses will luxuriate in Mason's imagination and beautiful language, while those unfamiliar with Mason or Ovid might find this novel of narrative fragments an unreadable work of experimental literary conceit.