NIGHTSONG by Michael Cadnum


The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice
Age Range: 11 - 13
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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)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-54535-8
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2006


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