Reviews for Nightsong : Legend of Orpheus And Eurydice

Booklist Reviews 2006 December #2
Cadnum followsStarfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun (2004) with another novel-length retelling of a classical myth. With vibrant detail, he embellishes events in the original story, creating a strong sense of place in each scene, from the sun-drenched countryside, where wandering Orpheus first meets the princess Eurydice, to the horrific underworld, where Orpheus travels to reclaim Eurydice after her fatal snakebite. Readers who claim disinterest in the classical myths will be easily swept up by the powerful love story, the perilous quests, the heartbreaking tragedy, and the magic, while romantics and aspiring artists may feel heartened by the well-paced story's messages about art's enduring, healing power. Send readers who want more about classical gods and mortals to Stephanie Spinner's Quiver (2002) and other titles listed in the "Read-alikes: Grrrls of the Ancient World" in the January 2003 issue of Booklist. ((Reviewed December 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Spring
This retelling of Ovid's [cf2]Metamorphoses[cf1] depicts musician Orpheus's doomed attempt to bring back his bride, Eurydice, from the underworld. Cadnum's lyrical language reflects the story's romance, tragedy, and ultimate hope, as Orpheus hears his lost beloved's voice every time he plays his lyre. Sisyphus and other figures from mythology make cameo appearances. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 October #2
Cadnum follows up Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun (2004) with another myth inspired by Ovid's version, but woodenly recast as a novel. Freely changing details, he opens with the great musician's rescue of a baby girl left out on a hillside to perish, closes not with Orpheus's violent death, but a soul-restoring discovery that Princess Eurydice is not entirely lost to him, and in between, takes him from the giddy heights of romance to Hades's sunless realm. Written in formal cadences-"The thought of poetry was so much long-cold ash to him, and the memory of song was bitter"-and divided into numerous short chapters, the tale includes encounters with Charon and Cerberus, the enigmatic Pluto (he goes by both Greek and Roman names here) and a strangely content Sisyphus. But the human figures are sketchier than the immortal ones, and unlike his listeners, Orpheus seems oddly unmoved by his music. Readers too will be unmoved, and will likely prefer such shorter versions as the one by Paule Du Bouchet with Fabian Negrin's otherworldly illustrations (2004), or Charles Mikolaycak's sensual rendition (1992). (Mythology. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 December #1

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.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 April

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

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