cover image Turandot


Marianna Mayer. HarperCollins, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-09073-9

Mayer (The Unicorn and the Lake) again demonstrates her talent for spinning elegant fairy tales in understated, dramatic prose. The story of Turandot, the cold-hearted princess who challenges her suitors with a life-or-death game of three riddles, unfolds as both a mystery and a love story. Readers will be perplexed and then compelled by the power of her beauty, asking, as Prince Calaf does, ``What sort of creature is this Princess Turandot that suitors gladly go to their death for her?'' Pels's (Beauty and the Beast) moody, oil-and-pencil illustrations have a still, posed quality; certain images seem composed as if for the stage, echoing the famous opera. Her ice-gray palette slowly gives way to warm reds and oranges as Turandot falls in love with Calaf; the final scene shows a triumphant wedding procession. An author's note references the many versions of Turandot, including the original Persian as well as a variation from the Brothers Grimm. All ages. (Oct.)