cover image Nightsong: The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice

Nightsong: The Legend of Orpheus and Eurydice

Michael Cadnum, Author . Scholastic/Orchard $16.99 (133p) ISBN 978-0-439-54535-8

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.)