by David Elliott


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Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda did in Hamilton, the New York Times best-selling author David Elliott turns a classic on its head in form and approach, updating the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur. A rough, rowdy, and darkly comedic young adult retelling in verse, which NPR called “beautifully clever,” Bull will have readers reevaluating one of mythology's most infamous monsters. 

Minos thought he could
Pull a fast one
On me,
God of the Sea!
But I’m the last one
On whom you
Should try such a thing.
The nerve of that guy.
The balls. The audacity.
I got capacity!
Depths! Darkness! Delphic power!
So his sweet little plan
Went big-time sour
And his wife had a son
Born with horns and a muzzle
Who ended up
In an underground puzzle.
What is it with you mortals?
You just can’t seem to learn:
If you play with fire, babies,
You’re gonna get burned.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544610606
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 778,331
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

David Elliott is a New York Times best-selling children's author. His most recent titles include On the WingNobody's Perfect, and The Orq books. Born in Ohio, David currently lives in New Hampshire with his wife and a three-footed dog. www.davidelliottbooks.com

Read an Excerpt


There beneath the palace walls
the monster rages, foams, bawls,
calling out again and again,

No other sound
but the scrape
of horn
on stone,
the grinding cranch of human bone
under callused human foot.



Whaddup, bitches?

Am I right or am I right?
That bum Minos deserved what he got.
I mean, I may be a god, but I’m not
Unreasonable, and when I am, so

Like I said,
I’m a god.
Reason’s got nuthin’
To do with it.

But let’s get back to where it all started:
Minos comes to me,
Mewling like a baby,
Frowny-faced, heavy-hearted.
He’s got a hunger, he says,
A hankering, a jones, a thing.
But not for a woman!
This jerk wants to be king!
An island so dazzling
It could cure the friggin’
Blind. But it’s not the friggin’
Scenery this friggin’
Minos has in mind.

Not the harbors or the shores,
The god-possessed waters.
Not the sheep, the trusty shepherds,
Their warlike sons, their lusty daughters.
Not the olives or the figs,
The sacred, long-lived trees.
Not the amber honey
Or the honey-making bees.
Not the thyme-drunk lovers
Who sigh among its flowers.

All this clown wants
Is a little power.
He’s got an appetite for obedience,
But no imagination.
And he doesn’t ask for much—​
Just his own private nation.

So he wonders
If I’d give the people
An omen,
A sign,
Something impressive,
He says, something divine.
Anything to prove
He’s the man
For the royal job.

So what the fuck, I think.
I’m gonna help this slob.

Why not?
I got plenty o’ nifty tricks
Up this metaphorical sleeve.
And you mortals?
You’re ready to believe
Anything to prove
A god’s on your side.
Besides, I got no dog in this fight.
No skin off my hide.
So, I wave my trusty trident;
Ain’t nuthin’ for me.
And abra-cadabra!

A milk-white bull
Comes walking
Out of the wine-dark sea.

The oldest trick in the book!
A piece o’ cake.
But it doesn’t take
Much to bring you
Mortals to your knees.

Yeah, you’re hard to respect
But easy to please.

So Minos gets it all—​
The palace, the power.
Big Man on Knossos.
Man of the Hour.

But all of a sudden,
He won’t play nice.

He was supposed to sacrifice
That bull
To me!
Poseidon, baby!
King of the Sea!
Tamer of Horses!
Old Earth-Shaker!
And one helluva troublemaker
When some jerk shirks
His responsibility and
Won’t keep his word.

So this Minos,
This “king,”
This two-faced
Hid my bull and
Sacrificed another.
Like I’m some kind of mark!
A pigeon!
His younger brother!
A harebrain!
An idiot!
A jamook!
A snot-nosed kid!

The guy’s all ego.


I could have turned his eyes
Into a nest for seething wasps.
I could have turned his face
Into a snapping clam.
I could have given him hooves
Or studded the roof
Of his mouth with thorns.
Could have fitted him with horns.
Made him smell like an outhouse.
Covered him with zits.
Turned his arms into eels.
His teeth into snails.
Bleat like a sea cow.
Blow like a whale.
A snout!
Turned his
I could have.
But I didn’t.

Parlor games.
A touch too mild.
Child’s play.
And Poseidon’s no child.

He needed something
He’d remember
His whole stinkin’ life.
That’s why I bypassed him . . .

And went after his wife.

When you play with the gods,
You’re playing fast and loose.
Enough small talk—​
I’ve got a sea nymph to seduce.

Customer Reviews

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Bull 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the various poetry forms used to emphasis character personalities and retell this story in a modern voice.
The-Broke-Book-Bank More than 1 year ago
I got caught up in the hype for this book. The line about it being like Hamilton for Greek mythology got me. It's a lie. Hamilton is brilliant, educational, overloaded with talent, and progressive, both in scope and practice. Bull is like an older white dad trying to be cool and "hip". It brings nothing new to the tale or genre. It's verses are rhythmically simple with basic rhymes. Poseidon is bro, A horrible, disgusting, annoying frat bro. Everyone is terrible. Everything is terrible. And just when Poseidon does his maniacal laugher bit, he blames it all on human nature. Puh-lease. Save yourself. Avoid this book
TheThoughtSpot More than 1 year ago
I voluntarily read and reviewed Bull by David Elliott. Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review this book! Bull is a retelling of the myth, "Theseus and the Minotaur". The author makes the characters as real and relevant as possible and broadens the story to explain more of Asterion's life from birth to childhood to the complete transformation of his character and sanity and all of this is written in poetic form and in modern language that makes it easily understandable. 4.5 stars!