Continuing his retelling of tales from Ovid, Cadnum (Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun ) once again breathes life into classic mythological figures. In this novel, highly accessible to middle-schoolers, he introduces the hero Orpheus, focusing on the renowned poet's undying devotion to the beautiful Princess Eurydice. The first time Orpheus hears Eurydice's remarkable singing voice, he falls deeply in love with her. Cadnum paints her as no shrinking violet; she tells the poet, "I have learned not to believe much of what I'm told... By any man." The two are soon engaged to be married, but on their wedding day, Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies immediately thereafter. As the author traces Orpheus's dangerous quest to rescue his bride from Pluto's dark kingdom, Cadnum sharply delineates the contrast between the joys found on earth and the gloom of the underworld. Kind and gentle Orpheus (moved to "tears of compassion" upon witnessing the damned souls of the fallen) emerges as the antithesis of coldhearted Pluto (who imposes the impossible upon Orpheus--that Orpheus never once look back at his beloved or lose her forever). Skillfully creating a complex, multidimensional portrait of Orpheus (as well as of other members of the supporting cast, including Persephone and Sisyphus), Cadnum brings new meaning to an ancient romance. Ages 9-12. (Nov.)[Page 58]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Gr 6-9-- The author of the acclaimed Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun (Scholastic, 2004) has created another excellent retelling of one of Ovid's mythical tales. Cadnum fleshes out many dramatic details from the classic story, providing readers with a tale of love and intrigue. As in the original, Orpheus, the musician-poet beloved by the gods, falls in love with Princess Eurydice, and he is determined to win her through his singing and playing of Apollo's lyre. In addition to his talents, Eurydice is touched by Orpheus's kindness, and thus, their marriage is arranged. However, before the bride and groom can retire for their wedding night, Eurydice is bitten by a viper, and she dies. Determined to win her back, Orpheus travels to the underworld, crosses the River Styx, and, with his song, impresses Pluto and Persephone enough to get his wish. The one condition, however, is that he must not look back at his bride until they reach the land of the living. Orpheus agrees, but when Eurydice falters on her journey, he cannot resist looking back to make sure that she is unharmed. In that moment, the princess returns forevermore to the Kingdom of the Dead. This well-written version is a much fuller retelling than that found either in Mary Pope Osborne's Favorite Greek Myths (Scholastic, 1989) or Jacqueline Morley's Greek Myths (Peter Bedrick, 1998). The story is a powerful one, delivered in comprehensible yet elevated language, and is sure to resonate with adolescents and give them fodder for discussion.--Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI[Page 128]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.