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Illyria Hardcover – May 13, 2010
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*Starred Review* Growing up in 1970s Yonkers, Maddy and Rogan were called the “kissing cousins” of the Tierney clan. In a secret attic space, they find a toy theater, complete with lighting and stage effects that appear like magic, but no actors or audience. As their discovery stirs within them the desire to create, Aunt Kate, mysterious and unnaturally beautiful, brings their abilities to a boil. Determined to restore the family's long-abandoned theatrical heritage, Kate pushes Maddy and Rogan to nurture their gifts in the school's production of Twelfth Night. However, Rogan's wild nature is ever at odds with his haunting, melodious singing voice, and Maddy's glamour, no doubt the gift of their great-grandmother, an ingénue of the stage, shines dimly in the brilliance of Rogan's fey charms. Winner of the World Fantasy Award, Hand's slim novella is sublime and daring; she makes no mystery about the nature of the 15-year-old cousins' relationship. It's as sweet, sexual, obsessive, and devastating as any other first love. YA readers are entrusted with a narrative of burgeoning and squandered talent, unapologetic incest, familial decline on par with that of Faulkner's Compson family, and a hard-won ending that's, at best, tenuously hopeful. The subtlety and raw ache of the prose, and the realistic portrayal of artistic lives, triumphantly heralds Hand's arrival into youth fiction. Grades 10-12. --Courtney Jones
"Stunning.... The evocations of the play, of first love, of intense desire, are pitch-perfect." -- Jeff Vandermeer
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Top customer reviews
And though this is pitched as YA, and Hand crops her style accordingly, in the end the overall vibe is more a middle-aged memory piece than YA romancer. That's not a criticism, just an observation.
I read this story in one sitting. I didn't want to wait. Were they going to have a happy ending? Was something painful and dramatic going to happen? Would I laugh, or cry?
I think the storyline kept the perfect pace. Nothing earth shattering but no bumps in the road. It felt Real. And regarding the toy theater, such a focused topic in many of the other reviews. I personally think it wasn't meant to be a door into some magical place. I think it was a symbol of Maddy and Rogan's escape from the daily expectations and perceptions.
I enjoyed the time I spent with Maddie and Rogan. I hope you will too.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is extremely short, which is part of why I picked it up. It’s short and very thoughtful, kind of slow, but also a little sad.Read more
Quick & Dirty: This was not a book for me.
Opening Sentence: Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical...Read more
of those books for me.Read more