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Grendel's Mother by Diana Stout: A Book Review

Grendel’s Mother
Author: Diana Stout
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Sharpened Pencils Productions
Release Date: March 16, 2016
Pages: 113
Source:  This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: A 15-year-old girl dreams of freedom, with a desire to marry the young man she loves. A horrific event changes her life forever. Pregnant and having brought shame to her family and community, she is sacrificed to the dragon to die, but instead, the dragon saves her unbeknownst to her family and the community. 

     This literary novel reveals a journey of societal injustice, a girl's love for Nature that enables her to survive life in the wild alone, of her giving birth and raising a baby—deemed a monster—entirely on her own. 

     In the end, not only does she battle Grendel to keep him safe, but she battles her son’s killer, Beowulf, as well. 

     My Review: Grendel’s Mother is one of the main antagonists in Beowulf. While reading the tale, the reader always cheers in delight when Beowulf kills Grendel’s Mother. Yet, is Grendel’s Mother really a monster or a villain? There is hardly any information about Grendel’s Mother, and she does not make an appearance till after Grendel is dead. In this novel, Grendel’s Mother is portrayed as a victim of injustice in a brutal world and a patriarchal society.

     Grendel’s Mother is unnamed and she narrates this story. In this story, she dreams of a happy future and dreams of being married to her young lover. However, she eventually realizes that she does not have the future she deserves. For as a woman, she is merely regarded as a chattel and a pawn for a stronger marriage alliance. One day, after a horrible event, she finds herself pregnant out of wedlock. Because of this, she is ordered to be sacrificed to a dragon. However, the dragon does not kill her, and helps her escape. Soon, Grendel’s Mother must learn to survive on her own.

     I really loved the character of Grendel’s Mother. She is very relatable and sympathetic. At first, she is very naive and idealistic. However, due to the cruelties of life, her dreams are taken away. It is because of the injustice in her world that she hardens a hatred for those who have done her harm. I also found her to be a strong, wise, and resourceful woman. She is a woman who has not given up and fights for herself and her son. She also loves her son very much and tries her best to protect him. She is also very respectful to nature. Thus, this woman is not the monster as she is portrayed in Beowulf.

     Overall, this book is about love, family, dreams, choices, and freedom. This novel is about a woman who is trying to find peace and happiness. This novel was a very short read, and I would have liked it to be longer. I wanted more characterization of Grendel. This book also had many unanswered questions, and I would have liked them to have been resolved. Still, this was a faithful retelling of Beowulf told from a different perspective. The story is very beautifully written, and readers will admire how strong Grendel’s Mother is and experience the heart-breaking tragedy that will unfold within these short pages. I recommend this story for fans of Beowulf, origin stories about infamous villains, and survival stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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