Orphia And Eurydicius

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Pub Date 02 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 23 Apr 2024

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The stunning, gender-flipped novel about love, creativity and the power of speaking out - perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

'Poetic and evocative ... this story will thrill readers' PIP WILLIAMS, bestselling author of The Dictionary of Lost Words

Their love transcends every boundary. Can it cheat death?

Orphia dreams of something more than the warrior crafts she's been forced to learn. Hidden away on a far-flung island, her blood sings with poetry and her words can move flowers to bloom and forests to grow ... but her father, the sun god Apollo, has forbidden her this art.

A chance meeting with a young shield-maker, Eurydicius, gives her the courage to use her voice. After wielding all her gifts to defeat one final champion, Orphia draws the scrutiny of the gods. Performing her poetry, she wins the protection of the goddesses of the arts: the powerful Muses, who welcome her to their sanctuary on Mount Parnassus. Orphia learns to hone her talents, crafting words of magic infused with history, love and tragedy.

When Eurydicius joins her, Orphia struggles with her desire for fame and her budding love. As her bond with the gentle shield-maker grows, she joins the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. Facing dragons, sirens and ruthless warriors on the voyage, Orphia earns unparalleled fame, but she longs to return to Eurydicius.

Yet she has a darker journey to make - one which will see her fight for her love with all the power of her poetry.

Praise for Orphia and Eurydicius

'As I read, I imagined the muses beside Elyse John, focusing her mind and guiding her hand. The writing is poetic and evocative, and the story will thrill readers who have long suspected something is missing from the classics of Greek myth.' PIP WILLIAMS, author of The Dictionary of Lost Words and The Bookbinder of Jericho

'Spins a bewitching tale of courage, love, and defiance, giving voice and agency to the women in Greek tales who are so often defined by the men they are associated with. Orphia's poetry may bring the gods to tears; John's words have the same effect on us mere mortals. Tragic and triumphant, a must-read!' ANDREA STEWART, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

'Elyse John's deft language lays bare the exquisite intimacies of human connection, from the brutal - yet seductive - exercise of power over another, to the moments of tenderness and vulnerability between lovers.' SHELLEY PARKER-CHAN, author of She Who Became the Sun

'Elyse John's Orphia and Eurydicius stunning retelling deftly explores Orphia's beginnings, her poetic ambitions, and her searing chemistry with Eurydicius, all of which challenge the gender dynamics of the time and death itself. A highly original read.' STACEY THOMAS, author of The Revels

'Bold yet beautiful ... I was glued to the page, compelled by the story of Lady Orphia and her love, the gentle shieldmaker Eurydicius. Orphia and Eurydicius is a thoughtful consideration as to what it means to be a man, a woman, a hero, a human being. I loved this retelling and couldn't stop thinking about it: Lady Orphia has my heart.' LAURA SHEPPERSON, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Heroines (UK), Phaedra (US)

'A cleverly conceived and lyrically crafted reimagining. John deftly weaves a compelling and insightful narrative that interrogates not only patriarchy but the gendered dynamics of love, romance and the role of artist and muse. It is a story about the importance of having a voice, and a delightful subversion of myth' BEA FITZGERALD, Sunday Times bestselling author of Girl, Goddess, Queen

'I found myself crying at the power of Elyse John's glittering, lyrical prose and the relationship at the heart of the novel. This is an excellent example of the power of mythological retellings as the novel makes us re-examine gender, heteronormativity and what makes a hero. I fell head over heels for this warrior-poet and gentle shieldmaker' RANI SELVARAJAH, author of Savage Beasts

'Orphia and Eurydicius is a Greek retelling which stands out in an age of reiterations. The language is lyrical, the plot, enchanting. John is a writer who has clearly done the work, one whose courage aligns with her brave, protagonists, outliers in their own right. I find myself enamoured of both artist and novel; the tender yearning, the fierce desire, the sorrow and sacrifice. This book consumed three months of my life and yet, I want to give more. It will be hard to return to real life. (If I cannot have this type of love, I'd rather have none at all). Orphia and Eurydicius is worthy of the greats.' CH?K?D?L? EMEL?MAD?, author of Dazzling

'A gorgeous, sweeping tale that both evokes the feeling of classic mythology and intelligent and modern insight, this is a story of the boundaries we put on love and grief - I dare you to be unmoved by it.' SAM HAWKE, author of City of Lies

'A beautiful, poetic ode to Greek myth, love, and the sheer power of women's art and women's voices.' TASHA SURI, author of the Burning Kingdoms series

'A powerful ode to female creativity and ambition, a poignant exploration of grief, and a testament to the power of art and love to transcend death. Lyrical, luminous, and brimming with passion.' H.G. PARRY, author of The Magician's Daughter

'A fresh and enchanting retelling of the Orpheus myth, in which Ancient Greece's greatest poet becomes a bold, powerful woman, and her muse an artistic, gentle man. John astutely explores and tests the gendered stereotypes of classical myth and elevates women's voices and stories to craft a beautiful, beguiling modern myth about the value of creativity, the strength of non-conformity and the power of love.' NIKKI MARMERY, author of Lilith

'Beautiful, beguiling and at times heartbreaking, Orphia and Eurydicius is a novel to be savoured and cherished. Rich in detail with characters that leap off the page, it kept me reading well into the night with my heart in my mouth. John has created a world that is both visceral and sumptuous, with prose that is as razor-sharp as it is lyrical. Gripping, poetic and enthralling, this novel is a testament to Elyse John's astonishing talent. Fans of Greek mythology are in for a treat!' AWAIS KHAN, author of Someone Like Her

'An absolutely beautiful book, both mythic and achingly human. Elyse John crafts an incisive yet graceful inversion of myth, told in deft and evocative prose.' ROWENNA MILLER, author of The Fairy Bargains of Prospect Hill

'Distilling the essence of poetry and the meaning of honesty, Orphia and Eurydicius is sharp as a spear tip and precise as a lover's wound. A story to be re-read and luxuriated in, asserting strength in a woman's spirit, the need for expression, and the fight to stay true to oneself.' KRITIKA H. RAO, author of The Surviving Sky

'A swoonworthy, breathtakingly exquisite, poignant masterpiece' BETTER READING

'Like all enchanted books, the story of Elyse Johns' Orphia and Eurydicius is vivid, consuming, potent, and poetic. This gender-flipping, feminist retelling is not just a love story for the ages, but a moving, magical ode to the power of using our voices, and of being who we are in the world.' HOLLY RINGLAND, author of The Seven Skins of Esther Wilding

'This book hooked me from its opening lines ... Music and poetry, art and magic are woven together in this dazzling fable which ultimately asks: how far are we willing to go for the ones we love? Elyse John has taken one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories ever told and infused it with a modern sensibility. Readers will swoon.' LAUREN CHATER, author of The Winter Dress

'A timeless story told in rich, poetic language ... a book for lovers of myth, passion and transporting historical fiction. John brilliantly reimagines the past while crafting a moving tale of love that challenges outdated gender roles, and of grief drawn from the depths of experience. The mesmerising landscapes, the journeys of sea and fire, encircle this very human story in the evocative realm of legend.' KATHERINE BRABON, author of The Shut Ins

'Highly polished and luminous ... A wonderfully ambitious, richly imagined tale of star-crossed lovers. Brimming with passion, wit and poetry Orphia and Eurydicius is a story of, and for, the ages. One that not only stands as a paeon to love, courage and acceptance but to every woman's desire, and right, to be heard. A triumph.' LYN HUGHES, author of Mr Carver's Whale

'A delectable concoction at once ancient and modern, comfortingly familiar and yet very much her own ... A thrilling tale of epic love and epic ambition spun with a Homeric sense of adventure and storytelling flair. It's also a hymn to the pleasures of sensuality, nature and creativity, and to the courage of being yourself rather than the person others want you to be.' LEE KOFMAN, author of The Writer Laid Bare

'Elyse John has written that rare novel, one that has heart and wisdom, adventure and poetry, and all the while it pulses with a great political purpose. It's a marvel.' NIGEL FEATHERSTONE, author of My Heart is a Little Wild Thing

'An intoxicating story about a woman fighting to live a life of creativity and love, on her own terms. This is a powerful epic about the collective power of women set in the mythical past that feels incredibly relevant today. John's gilded romance about breaking boundaries to live and love is transportative.' STEPH VIZARD, winner of the 2022 HarperCollins Banjo Prize for The Love Contract

The stunning, gender-flipped novel about love, creativity and the power of speaking out - perfect for fans of Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

'Poetic and evocative ... this story will thrill readers'...

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Featured Reviews

I truly do love a good Greek retelling. I also love when Greek retellings flip the story on its head and give it a new perspective, which is exactly what this book did. I think it is so interesting to flip the genders of Orpheus and Euridice, given what their myths are about. This was truly a clever tale, and my hungry eyes devoured it right up.

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Good writing and an inventive take on a mythological story. Overall, I really enjoyed the prose, which leans a bit flowery. but not to the point of being annoying. If there is a mythological retelling out there, I am likely going to read it, and this ranks pretty highly in the list of re-tellings I have come across.

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Like many, I always love a good Greek retelling, especially one that takes some aspect of the original myth and takes a new perspective with it, and this book definitely accomplishes that! Orpheus being a woman allows this story to take a good look at all the hurdles that women must overcome to be recognized as great. There is also something very powerful in the love between Orphia and Eurydicus being equal, and Eurydicius being allowed to be gentle and soft. The prose in this book is also gorgeous, flowery, and powerful all at once. The one issue I had with this book is that unfortunately the pacing was odd at times- some less important moments seemed to drag on, while others passed in the blink of an eye. Overall though, I greatly enjoyed this book and highly recommend to fans of Greek mythology.

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Thanks to NetGalley and HaperCollins for the ARC!! From the first line of this book, I was hooked: “I sharpened my sword with poetry and hardened my arm with the memory of lyre strings.”

Orphia and Eurydicius is a gender-flipped retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, one of my personal favorite Greek myths. Orphia is the daughter of the god Apollo and the muse Calliope. A warrior-turned-poet, she strives to tell the stories of women, from Medusa and Hera to the washerwomen of the Whispering Isle. She meets Eurydicius, a gentle shield-maker, and the rest is history.

First, the writing in this book is beautiful. It made the scenery of Mount Parnassus and the Whispering Isle come to life. I also enjoyed how the author positioned Orphia as a multifaceted woman, it felt very real and relatable to me. Orphia desires to hone her craft and gain fame through her work, and is strong enough to lift grown men and beat renowned warriors in duel. She is also open to love, and eventually uses her love for Eurydicius as inspiration for her poetry, which makes her work even more powerful. She doesn’t have to choose between fame and love, she is able to find a way to have both.

I loved her relationship with Eurydicius, and thought that the representation of their unique gender roles within their relationship was powerful. Orphia’s grief over Eurydicius’ death (spoiler if you don’t already know the Orpheus myth) also touched me deeply. I was brought to tears and the way she grieved also felt very relatable.

I wish we had gotten to know Eurydicius a bit more. Sometimes it seemed like he was just there as a foil to Orphia, and we didn’t get to know much about his history or what Orphia saw in him other than his support of her and her craft.

The only other thing that kept me from giving this book 5 stars was that sometimes the writing felt a little bit heavy-handed in its theme of telling women’s stories. It was repeated time and time again that Orphia wanted to tell women’s stories, and some of the twists were easy to predict because of that repetition. And when Orphia came up with a poem about a woman, we only got a stanza or so. I feel like I missed some of the impact of Orphia’s work because the author described her mission more than actually sharing what she had come up with. In the same vein, I felt that some of the female characters in the story were a bit underdeveloped, though I understand that the side characters weren’t the point of the story.

Overall, this was a great read! I loved the emphasis on female agency, the writing style, and of course, the twist on one of my favorite Greek myths. 4 stars!

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I am sobbing. This book is so beautiful and sweet, I went through a range of emotions.

I received this ARC from netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love Greek retellings. Something about hearing a different version of things intrigues me, especially when the stories in question are already legend and mystery. This one did not disappoint.

The plot is entirely based on Orphia and Eurydicious’s love and their journeys in love. I appreciate the swapping of gender roles, especially in Ancient Greece. We follow Orphia through life and love and death, and each chapter is beautiful and poetic.

The characters. THE CHARACTERS. Orphia is strong willed and resilient and lyrical. Eurydicious is soft and kind and gentle. The Muses each have their own personality and quirks. Most men in this novel are trash, but in mythology most of the Gods are… well…. Trash. There’s representation of all walks of love in this book as well.

The writing style is flowy and poetic and lyrical. It is a mood read, and not a fast read if you want to absorb the truth and meaning behind every word. I wouldn’t consider this easy reading, but it most certainly is beautiful reading.

I can appreciate a book that brings me to tears multiple times. I loved the journey I embarked on reading this book. 4.75⭐️

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What a great book! Mythology retellings have long been some of my favorite reads and Orphia and Eurydicius by Elyse John was no exception. Her poetic writing style is so well suited for this tale. Two souls, unbound by gender norms and fated to be together in life, and death. What a love!

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This was a fun retelling of a well-known myth. I loved the gender-swapping and felt like it added another layer of depth and interest without taking away from the original tale.

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“He was picking flowers for you.”

*Thank you to Harper 360 and Harper Collins for providing me a review copy through NetGalley*

I will try my best to avoid spoilers for both the novel and the original myth on which it is based.

In a powerful exploration of gender roles in ancient Greek mythology, the fierce poet daughter of Apollo and a timid shield-smith spark a romance that defies the gods. This book is not just a ‘gender-bent retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice’—it is much, much more.

I think the style of language this book is written in often runs the risk of sounding flowery, stilted, and pretentious. Orphia and Eurydicius never did. You will want to read every word, and each one makes it evident that the author is a poet in her blood. After reading such a beautiful work of art, it feels like no words can truly encapsulate how it made me feel.

Near the beginning, I held some dread for what was to come. Knowing the original myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as closely as I do nearly caused me not to get invested in Orphia’s and Eurydicius’ relationship at first. However, the lyrical prose and beautiful romance between them soon made me almost forget what was coming. When it happened, I was shocked alongside Orphia.

No one does bisexuality like Orphia and Eurydicius. I kind of wish Eurydicius was more present, especially for the first third-ish, since it is the story of both of them. The scenes with him were the best and most enjoyable to read in my opinion, because Orphia’s poet’s tongue really shone through her love for him.

Jason maintains his inter-media status of making me so angry. The plot did feel like it dragged most when Orphia was with him, but the prose was good enough that I didn’t mind it as much as I might’ve. The prose definitely makes up for any lapses in the pacing.

And the ending! I was satisfied, and that’s all I can say without spoiling anything.

I definitely encourage everyone to pick up a copy once it hits international shelves. I usually pick a favorite line from every book I read to add to my reading journal, and this one is going to be so difficult to narrow down. It’s that good in every line. I knew very early on that it would be an easy five stars.

Review crossposted to GoodReads

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