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Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire    by Julius Lester order for
by Julius Lester
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Julius Lester's retelling of the classic Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche, Cupid: A Tale of Love and Desire, is the perfect read for this time of year. Anyone who has ever been in love - or lust - can relate to this story.

Cupid has never been in love, but he falls hard for the mortal, Psyche, when his mother Venus sends him to humiliate the girl everyone is saying is more beautiful that the goddess. Determined to get the girl, Cupid forces Apollo to tell Psyche's father that she is to meet her husband on a mountain. Not one for being ordered around, Apollo gives Psyche's father the message but adds that her husband-to-be is a monster. Even though Cupid keeps his identity from Psyche, she realizes he is not a monster, but she regrets never being able to see the face of her lover. When her sisters visit, they become jealous and trick Psyche into disobeying her husband and looking upon his face. When she does so, Cupid flees and Psyche is left to look for her missing true love. When Cupid returns home, Venus learns that her son has betrayed her and married her enemy. Vowing to prove Psyche unworthy of an immortal, Venus sets her to impossible tasks. Though all looks bleak for the pair, the story does end happily ever after.

Lester immediately draws the reader in by writing in the style of the storyteller, interrupting every so often to add his own insights and observations. Sometimes, he even goes off on tangents about psychology, but what better tale to do so in than the story of Psyche? This style makes Cupid a very comfortable and imaginative story, the reader feeling that the tale is being told just for them. Adding to the fun, Lester includes minor deities who are rarely featured in the Greek myths that have survived until today. Julius Lester takes a short Greek myth and turns in into a full-blown novel that is fun and easy to read. February is a month for love, and Cupid is definitely a love story, but also one that makes the reader think about their own relationships.

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