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Illyria Hardcover – May 13, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*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

Review

"Stunning.... The evocations of the play, of first love, of intense desire, are pitch-perfect." -- Jeff Vandermeer
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (May 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670012122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670012121
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on June 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Madeleine and Rogan Tierney are first cousins and descendants of the great stage actress Madeleine Armin Tierney. They live with their many relatives at Arden Terrace, a gated community with large, rambling houses in Yonkers, and as the youngest cousins they are the closest--so close that they share a connection no one else could ever comprehend, and ultimately fall in love. Encouraged by their glamorous Aunt Kate to pursue their legacy in theater, the two participate in their school's production of Twelfth Night, which causes all sorts of feelings and emotions to swell, and forces Madeleine and Rogan to face the uncertainty of their future together.

Illyria's setting is rich and lush, from the depictions of how Madeleine and Rogan spent their childhoods to the details in the sprawling, decaying homes that their families inhabit. Hand's writing is indeed intense, and the relationship she builds between the cousins is full of tension and passion, especially when they share private moments in the attic of Rogan's house, watching the tiny, magical toy theater they found. It is evident through their roles in Twelfth Night that both Madeleine and Rogan possess talent for the stage, but while one of them wastes it, the other embraces it, cleaving the two and showing them each very different futures. Though more practical-minded readers may have a hard time grasping the point of this short novel, Hand's writing is beautiful and her imagery vivid. Like any great tragedy, Illyria is haunting and gorgeous.
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Format: Hardcover
Maddy and Rogan are first cousins; actually their fathers are identical twins so genetically they're half-siblings. They share the same birthday, are each the youngest of six children and grew up together on the same street. They are also passionately and hopelessly in love with each other. They steal time together hidden away in Rogan's attic where they find an enchanted toy theater.

Maddy and Rogan's great-grandmother was a famous stage actress. When Maddy and Rogan are both cast in their school's production of Twelfth Night, they realize the extent of their own talents for acting and must decide what that means for their futures, both together and separately.

Okay, I'll just be honest here. After reading the other reviews of this book, I'm feeling pretty dumb. It's gotten rave reviews all over the place and won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novella. I enjoyed it but I feel like I must have missed something. I wanted more. I wanted to know why the theater was in the attic and why it was enchanted and who put it there. I kept waiting for it to have more of a role in the story and it never did. The reviewer who wrote: "Though more practical-minded readers may have a hard time grasping the point of this short novel, Hand's writing is beautiful and her imagery vivid." sums it up nicely. I am too practical (and maybe not smart enough) for this book.
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By Jude on May 11, 2015
Format: Hardcover
~3/5

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.

It’s about these two cousins, the same age, who are in love with each other. They’re part of a large family that live on the same street, some of whom get along, their parents are strict and they don’t really get along with their siblings.

Their relationship is interesting, and I was actually kind of okay with it. Maybe because I knew ahead of time, though. They clearly are the only ones there for each other, with the same interests. They’re both interested in theatre, and him in singing. But while she wants to be an actor, he starts going down a bad path.

I liked the writing, for sure. It’s very pretty and thoughtful, and the image of the tiny theatre will probably stay in my head because it’s so pretty. But it’s also sad. The ending for both of the characters, but especially for him and their family, is kind of depressing. She has a better time, but only marginally. It doesn’t seem like anyone was really happy to me.

It was a worthwhile, pretty read, but sad.

[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]
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By C. on May 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
I don't know how to write eloquent reviews. I read so much but rarely ever even leave a comment. And this is not even my usual choice of reading material. But WOW! I could see everything, feel it all, and just sat back and absorbed Maddy and Rogan's world. The story is told by Maddy. It is about first love. It's also about theater. It's about growing up and about changing. It's magical at times and has a firm footing in the real world. Not Fantasy, but wishful. Or maybe wistful?
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.
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