Corydon was born with a leg shaped like a goat’s, which was why the villagers drove him away as a scapegoat, blaming him for all the bad luck they had suffered. It is only after he is captured by pirates for their traveling sideshow of monsters that the young shepherd finds a real family.
Written by a mother and son team using the pen name Tobias Druitt, Corydon and the Island of Monsters renders the ancient myths of the Greek world with a modern touch. The Olympian gods, for example, are compared to a bossy multinational corporation, striving to wipe out all monsters, mostly because they just don’t like them.
With the aid of a powerful staff, Corydon escapes from the pirates and frees all the monsters, while befriending a pair of immortal Gorgons and a pregnant Medusa. One pirate sends word of the escape to Perseus, son of Zeus, who tries to hide his own cowardice by forming a band of heroes to destroy the monsters. Corydon must find a way to form his monster allies including the Minotaur, the Sphinx and the Harpy into an army of defense, one that can face the thousands of men Perseus lured to the island with claims of great treasure. To succeed, Corydon must also learn how to use the magic of the staff, even though that means entering the Land of the Dead.
Corydon eventually finds that he and his friends don’t have to stand alone against this power, as Pan, Artemis and other gods are on their side. As is often the case when the gods battle, it is the lesser beings who pay with their lives, but Corydon learns that this can be the price for freedom.
Corydon and the Island of Monsters is a great way to introduce classic legends to young readers. Two more books are planned to follow the adventures of this courageous boy, and I will be looking forward to both of them. Colleen R. Cahill is recommending officer of science fiction and fantasy at the Library of Congress.