Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

"Jack Perdue, a ninth grade classics prodigy, lives with his father on the Yale University campus. Smart and introverted, Jack spends most of his time alone, his nose buried in a book. But one winter evening, a near-fatal accident changes Jack’s life forever.

His father sends him to see a mysterious doctor in New York City—a place Jack hasn’t been since his mother died there eight years ago. In Grand Central Terminal, he meets Euri, a girl who offers to show him the train station’s hidden places, the ones only true urban explorers know about. Eight floors below the station, however, Jack discovers more than just hidden tracks and mysterious staircases..." (summary from author's website)

I don’t remember just how I came upon the summary for this title, but once I did I knew I wanted to read it. I put it on my to-read list and found it while browsing at the library two weeks ago.  Essentially, this could be cast as a retelling of the classic Greek myth about Orpheus and Euridice. This tragic tale about Orpheus tells of his quest into the underworld. While there he is permitted find his love Euridice and bring her back to the world of the living on the condition that he not look back while he leads her out. As in all tragedies Orpheus fails in his quest and looks back before they exit the underworld. Euridice is lost to him and Orpheus mourns greatly and is never the same again.

This novel put a new spin on the tale by changing the setting of the underworld  to the streets of New York City. Those who are familiar with the city’s many landmarks will be amused and delighted to experience them anew from a ghosts perspective—flying and swooping through the air and disappearing through walls. This version of the story becomes less a tragedy and more a mystery novel of sorts as Jack has to discover exactly why he was allowed to enter the Underworld in the first place while avoiding the three-headed dog Cerebus and other underworld guards. Jack finds companionship and love with Euri as they search the underworld for his mother. Each of the characters must face the conflict of finding closure with the finality of death.  I really enjoyed this read.  While not action-packed as most myth retellings these days, it gives a strong sense of place, complex conflicts, and characters that are worth rooting for. 

Also, the Latin didn’t hurt. There are lots of fun Latin phrases scattered throughout, and as a former Latin teacher I had lots of fun reading and enjoying familiar and new phrases. Also, I think I have mentioned before that I have an obsession with underworld fiction, as I find it fascinating. So, this also increased my enjoyment of this book.
Please check out Katherine Marsh's website.


MKHutchins said...

Sounds fun! I'll have to check it out.

Gamila said...

There is also a sequel called the twilight prisoner. You may want to check it out at the same time.