xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths

xo Orpheus is an expansive collection of reimagined tales that achieves the rare distinction of being both hugely entertaining and rekindling the sense of wonder in encountering myth and fairy tales for the first time. As she did in My Mother She Killed, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer shows impeccable taste and creative vision in the stories she has chosen and the artful and cohesive way she arranges them.

The stories take on every conceivable strand of world myth, with retellings of Greek, Norse, Indian and Native American tales. There are creative and clever cover versions where one can easily intuit the original inspiration; other stories offer the merest echo of the previous tale before meandering off wonderfully in surprising and engaging directions.

The level of craft never drops. To single out any specific stories is almost criminal, but the chilling "Coyote Myths" by Shane Jones combines domestic anxiety and mythic resonance to lasting effect. Max Gladstone's "Drona's Death" takes a minor event from the Mahabharata and delivers a timeless polemic on the cost of war.

xo Orpheus is a beautifully assembled collection. Bernheimer and her cohorts have achieved something that is increasingly rare these days; in breathing new life into these old tales they've also brought a little bit of enchantment to our hectic and increasingly myth-empty world.  --Donald Powell, freelance writer

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