Target audience: 12+
Enter Stage Right
All her world's a stage.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theatre.
She is not an orphan, but she has no parents.
She knows every part, but has no lines of her own.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every place ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book—an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family—and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.
Eyes Like Stars is one of those books that I would have never have read if I hadn't been a blogger. I just don't think I would have heard about it. Maybe I would have happened to pick it up in a book store but I've been looking out for it since I read a review and still haven't spotted it. I came by this copy from a really sweet blogger, The Book Bug. Anyway, I think I'm dithering a little here because I still haven't quite decided how much I like this book.
Bertie, as her fairy friends know her, is our heroine. She lives in a theatre with all the characters from all the plays ever written. She is the part of the theatre but she is set apart from the characters because she is a real person. Eyes Like Stars is the first book in the Theatre Illuminata series and it tells us of the mystery behind how Bertie came to find her home at the theatre.
Bertie is such a great character. She is feisty and perhaps due to the influence of four very famous fairies is quite troublesome too. The character I least liked was Ariel (not The Little Mermaid one but the Shakespeare's Tempest one). I found him dark and manipulative. Then there's Nate who was a pirate from the Little Mermaid. (This is where I started to get a little confused). Nate was simply adorable. There is also a whole supporting cast of minor characters which are largely from the plays of Shakespeare. I think the more you know of Shakespeare, the more you will get from this book. Macbeth being the only play mentioned that I'm really well acquainted with meant that I found Lady Macbeth's lines hilarious. Perhaps if you know the Tempest, you will understand Ariel on a different level and find a stronger connection with him than I did.
The plot itself is actually quite straightforward but the complexity of the novel comes from the setting. The theatre is an amazing landscape and I loved Mantchev's description of it. There are frequent scene changes with hilarious consequences. A multitude of characters which are all superbly crafted. The workings of her fantasy world are well thought out and executed.
The reason I have mixed feelings about the book is because of the section which precedes the ending. I guess it is the climax. Naturally, I don't want to reveal it but I will say that I was so confused as the action unfolded. There were almost too many players on the stage and it detracted from my enjoyment of what is effectively the most important part of the book.
Overall, I did enjoy reading it. At times I even loved reading it. Reading a book set in the theatre is so new to me and I absolutely adored the atmosphere behind the curtains.
Read this if you dream of being an actress, you love the works of Shakespeare, you love pirates (Nate is so sweet) or you just fancy a change. It is a funny, imaginative and theatrical read.