cover image Cupid


Julius Lester, . . Harcourt, $17 (198pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202056-9

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Lester (Time's Memory ) retells the tale of Cupid and Psyche, with appearances by some highly appealing lesser Greek and Roman characters, such as Oizys, goddess of pain, and the highly likeable Favonius, the West Wind, along with his other wind counterparts. Psyche comes across as especially sympathetic; her kindness is just as striking as her beauty. And even those familiar with the tale may be surprised at just how vindictive Psyche's jealous sisters can be, as they prompt Psyche to break her promise to Cupid (Cupid, who comes to Psyche only under cover of darkness, asks her to vow never to gaze upon his face or risk losing him forever). Unfortunately, the vague persona of the omniscient narrator here detracts from the pace and poetic details of the tale. The narrator reveals only tidbits of information about himself; for instance as he watches Psyche's wedding procession, he notes, "This reminds me of my weddings. At all six of them, the bride cried." He also conjures a rather contentious relationship with "the story," as when he raises the question of how it is that Psyche never detected Cupid's wings in all their nights of lovemaking: "I asked the story about it. The story scratched its head and looked very confused." Still, for fans of romance and mythology, this is highly entertaining. Lester casts the two protagonists as adolescents coming of age through the trials and ultimate triumph of their love. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)