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xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths

(New Fairy Tales #2)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  826 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Fifty leading writers retell myths from around the world in this dazzling follow-up to the bestselling My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me.

Icarus flies once more. Aztec jaguar gods again stalk the earth. An American soldier designs a new kind of Trojan horse—his cremains in a bullet. Here, in beguiling guise, are your favorite mythological figures alongside chara
Paperback, 531 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  826 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
this book is a collection of stories by authors i have read before, authors whose books i own but have never gotten around to actually reading, and authors i have never heard of before.

and like all anthologies, this is a good way to get a crash course on the lot of them. but also true of anthologies, it is a mixed bag in terms of "their appeal to me," of course keeping in my mind that when authors are asked to write within a particular theme, it might not be a true introduction to their general
Ben Loory
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
i have a story in this book called "The Squid Who Fell in Love with the Sun."

Stuti Rai
thank you, penguin group!

xo Orpheus is a potpourri of different takes on myths. Some are ordinary life mishaps and happenings that draw parallel from old folktales; some are direct takes on the myths in contemporary life with all the weirdness and magic incorporated; still others are jumble of all things new and old, magic and not, wherein it seems the authors themselves get hopelessly lost while telling the stories. In some forest, on a chariot, burning the world or fallen angels, stealing godl
With very few exceptions (Galatea and Dark Resort come to mind) the stories in this collection were quite lukewarm. Not bad, by any means, but I'm not going to remember them for very long. I can't even claim in good conscious that I actually read the whole thing, I started to heavily skim it after the 50% mark. ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Today, I have to write a review I don’t really want to. See, there are negative reviews and negative reviews. Sometimes a negative review is really satisfying, because the book was, at least by your own estimation, perfectly horrid and/or rage-inducing. Times like today, though, the book is quite good in its own way, but that doesn’t happen to be a way that coincides so much with your taste. I always feel so bad when this happens with a review book, because I feel like I should have known better ...more
Like any collection, XO Orpheus had some really strong moments and just a few stories that didn't particularly appeal to me.

"Sawdust" by Edward Carey, "Labyrinth" by Ron Currie, Jr., "Henry and Booboo" by Elanor Dymott, and "Drona's Death" by Max Gladstone were some of the standout pieces in this collection.
black lamb
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Which was, like, ages ago, and I read it and wrote a review, and then fell off the face of the earth in a pit of depression, so um, sorry! Also, this review contains spoilers!

I should make a resolution of some kind to read more anthologies. That was part of the thought that was in my head when I requested a copy of this from the publisher to review: I should read more anthologies. I picked one up on a whim earlier this y
Shriya Uday
Aug 01, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: wishlist, 2021
This was an interesting collection. While it had a lot of mediocre stories it did have it's stand outs. However my favourite thing about this collection was the diversity in the stories and mythologies drawn from which was really interesting and very welcome.

Here are the stories I rated five stars or otherwise thought were worth reading,
The Squid who Fell in Love with the Sun
Drona's Death
Belle Medusa
The Swan's Wife

And here's a fu
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book, a collection of modern takes on old myths. A few of the stories shined, but most of them were only ok, and a few I didn't even finish. Many of the stories were detached, ironic, and dark, but without the sense of grandeur and wonder of the original myths.

Many of the authors drew on Greco-Roman mythology, but there were also stories from other traditions. In fact, my favorite story in the book was a retelling of an episode from the Mahābhārata. I've never read the
Nov 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Thomas Ross (Editorial Assistant): Sometimes it’s just happenstance and the good taste of others that leads you to something new and amazing. This month I read for review xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, Kate Bernheimer’s anthology of contemporary fiction writers writing new/to/through classic myths and mythological subjects. Anthologies are difficult to review, but this one gave me plenty to write about, due in no small part to Kate Bernheimer’s introduction, which is thoughtful, illuminating, and— ...more
Miss Bookiverse
Somebody please remind me to never buy/read another collection edited by Kate Bernheimer even if it hits hard on one of my buzzwords. Apparently, her reading taste and mine are vastly different, as are our ideas of what a myth (or fairy tale, see My Mother She Killed Me...) retelling should be like. I like mine to be magical and epic, set in ancient times, she seems to like hers contemporary and bleak – which is fine, most of the stories in this collection aren't exactly bad, they're just not wh ...more
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
I am not familiar with all of the myths in this collection. However I did have an enjoyable time reading this book. To be honest I did not read all of the stories. This is one of those books that you can randomly pick a few stories to read at a time and go back to reference to other stories again and again.

The stories in this book may seem like new twists on old, classic myth stories but they are not. Well not really in a way. They may be new from the ones you are familar with but the stories a
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I really hate trying to rate anthologies.
Some were gems, some of them I think I didn't really "get" and most weren't worth the paper they were printed on... so where does that leave me

My favourite was Galatea and Pygmalion. It's by Madeline Miller, so no surprises there.
I also enjoyed the Hades ones, especially the Girl with the Talking Shadow by Kate Bernheimer.
As for the ones I didn't like... The less I say about those, the better.

Overall, if I had to guess, I think I liked maybe 20% of the bo
Cait McKay
Am I typing this up while wearing a tee featuring the cover of the d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths? YOU KNOW IT!

That strange tome of simplified myth and ultra-bright illustration cracked open a need in me when I was very young. I re-read that book countless times, and used it as the entry point into the larger world of mythology. Combined with a Catholic upbringing that was far more focused on the deaths of the saints than on anything else, you could saw I was a morbidly curious child...and if y
Pamela Scott
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing

This is one of the best collections of contemporary short stories I’ve read in ages. I love myths so the odds of me liking this book were pretty high. Usually anthologies have a couple of weaker stories in them that sort of blend in, unnoticed with the rest. This wasn’t the case for Xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths. Every story is fantastic. It was a sheer pleasure to read. Xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths covers an impressive range of styles and genres like a huge
Leah Rachel von Essen
I was excited for XO Orpheus edited by Kate Bernheimer. I really enjoyed My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, the collection of adapted / “new” fairy tales that she edited—this one was instead based on mythology.

I think this collection could have used better curation from Bernheimer to be shorter and better. When you’re going to release a 531-page collection of short stories, ideally they should be unified. Myth is too wide a theme to do that work for Bernheimer—connecting a smart rete
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Thanks, NetGalley!

This is a short story collection of myths rewritten by a bunch (re: 50) of authors. I have a strong interest in mythology, so this seemed like a great idea. And certainly there were parts of it that were a great idea. But it's a big collection (50 stories and almost 600 pages); not every story was interesting or well-done. I will confess that I skipped through quite a few of the tales, especially if the original myth was one I didn't know (which accounts for a large percentage
Sep 25, 2013 rated it liked it
I read xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, edited by Kate Bernheimer, last year, and am only getting around to reviewing it now. Usually I try to force myself to write my responses to what I’ve read no more than a week after I’ve finished it; I’m a fast, enthusiastic reader, but I have a terrible memory and will often struggle to recall plot points, or character names, or anything deeper than a surface recollection. (Is it true playing Sudoku helps improve memory? If so, I need to get on that…but I’ll ...more
I'm a big fan of fairy tale and mythology retellings. I generally like to see different people's takes on these familiar tales, and how they might be affected by a modern mindset. So, when I saw this on NetGalley, I grabbed it for review. I was in no way compensated for reviewing this title, and the review copy is formatted to discourage duplication. I think I would be less disappointed if I'd paid money to read this. I wound up forcing myself to get through it so I could offer a fair review.

Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anthologies are a different sort of beast from what I typically review. In fact, I rarely read anthologies. At least I haven't read one since my undergrad days and the cumbersome Norton anthologies that entailed. But xo Orpheus is far from the literary canon that usually is included in anthologies: fifty authors, fifty new takes on mythological tales.

I personally love the idea of a short story anthology. The contributions are bite-sized meaning you can read one or two and walk away for a bit an
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

What a varied mix of stories, an eclectic reader's dream come true! From down-to-earth retellings of ancient myths to the truly bizarre, there is something for everyone in this collection. One is even in graphic novel format!

For the first half of the book, I couldn't wait to find out what experience each story held. Each story encourages the reader to read the next, and I was devouring them. However, this is a fairly hefty anthology -
Jul 24, 2014 rated it liked it
I did like this book. It was very dense and a bit cumbersome to read, though. Many of the stories are absolute works of art, blending literal symbolism and abstract ideas in the best way. I feel that the summary given here as well as the introduction promised something completely different than what was delivered, as many of the stories were only loosely based on myths (or sometimes folklore and fairytales—maybe a few stories that didn't make it into Kate Bernheimer's previous compilation? Not s ...more
After some difficulties (i.e. having initially received a copy missing some pages) I could read this collection of short stories. I found it because Madeline Miller wrote a story for it, and I really love The Song of Achilles.
Miller's story, Galatea, was not the worst, but I did not love it either. I suppose it was good, but dark, and I didn't like the sense of despair.

I had expected many of the stories to take place in a more mythological setting, but most of them were set in a modern world. I
Jun 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
Okay, I REALLY hate to leave a book unfinished, but I just can't subject myself to this any longer, because this book makes me feel like I don't like reading. So, yeah, DNF at 33%, 0/10 wouldn't recommend.
I mean, most of this stories don't feel like they are even stories, just something unfinished and possibly rejected by other projects. This has absolutely nothing to do with myth retellings, so don't let the description fool you. If the goal of the anthology was to violently murder mythology,
Nov 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
The title is a clue to the nature of this collection. Xo stands for goodbye. To Bernheimer, the anthologist, myth is of the past, no longer relevant, dead. She doesn't see the eternal life in mythology. This is a dry, enlightened view of religion and myth, and the stories here are correspondingly dry exercises in trying to modernize myth, and they fail. Some good writers appear here, but it is clear that they wrote these stories on Berheimer's request, so the stories are lifeless. ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
Dec 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because it's different from what I usually read. Some of the stories were very out there. I didn't absolutely love any of them, but I liked almost all of them. The quality of writing was good and the quality of imagination was outstanding. Demeter is reimagined as a mother with shared custody of her child. We find out what Daedalus does after Icarus crashes into the sea. One of my favorites was a take on the myth of the Kraken, "The Squid Who Fell in Love With the Sun." ...more
Katie Cunningham
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A diverse selection of short stories, all based in some respect on the idea of myths. Some directly reference myths, while others work with more general concepts, like transformation. Many are accessible, though there are a few that are more experimental / strange.
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it
why can I never finish short story collections? anyway, started off okay then got really good then okay and now I am sick and tired of short stories
Apr 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
DNF at 59%. Holy shit, I just can't do this anymore. I've been painstakingly making my way through this for three months now, but I'm really just not a fan. ...more
Oct 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Entertaining and novel, this anthology exhibits work from a wide variety of authors who reinterpret a wide variety of myths. As expected for a book published in the West (and based on the title), Greek mythology features heavily, but the occasional appearance of other influences such as the Arabian Nights, Hindu gods, and ancient American tribal civilizations offer delightful glimpses of cultures further from the beaten path of Europe and post-colonial North America.

Based on the brilliance of th
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Kate Bernheimer is the author of three novels and the story collection Horse, Flower, Bird, as well as children's books. Among other books, she edited the World Fantasy Award winning My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the forthcoming xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths. ...more

Other books in the series

New Fairy Tales (2 books)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales

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