Orphia and Eurydicius by Elyse John

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02 Apr 2024
Number of pages:
506 pages

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.' CHỊKỌDỊLỊ EMELỤMADỤ, 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

About the Author: Elyse John is a writer and a poet. She studied literature, writing and French at university, completing a PhD. Her poetry nominations include the Pushcart Prize and several major Australian prizes. She has published a collection of poetry and her poems feature in journals in Australia, Europe, and Japan. Inspired by her late brother, she creates work in his memory. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

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Number of pages 506

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