Confession: I have a rather large to-be-read pile, with many new books clamoring for my attention. So when I received an ARC of Eyes Like Stars ages ago, I read a few pages and set it down again. Repeat over the span of several weeks.
Why wasn’t I whisked away into the world of Eyes Like Stars? I’m not sure, but I suspect it had to do with the large cast of characters and confusing hubbub of activity in the first few chapters. Also, I had a hard time guessing where the plot was going initially. This isn’t the kind of book that holds a reader’s hand and guides them through a brand new world; it’s a book that tosses you into the glittering confusion and lets you sort things out along the way.
Once I got my bearings, however, the story steadily grew more and more irresistible. Major points for the evilly adorable, naughty fairies Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fame. Fairies + pastries = hilarity. They provide some of the funniest moments in the book, though their snarky little jokes may even be eclipsed by Bertie’s wit and the amusing conundrums she finds herself in. I also laughed at Bertie’s bossy treatment of the various male characters in this story, particularly when they attempt to flirt with her. Bertie makes a wonderfully quirky protagonist, flawed yet strong in an unquestionably matter-of-fact way.
The characters alone were enough to tug me through the first half of the story. Around the middle, the plot picked up and I started zipping through the pages. I loved learning more about the Theatre Illuminata–which is a great piece of worldbuilding–and Bertie’s place within it. I found the ending fun and unexpected, with just enough loose threads to make a sequel enticing.
Overall, I would recommend Eyes Like Stars to anyone who loves Shakespeare, snarkiness, original worldbuilding, and quirky fantasy. And, of course, mischievous little fairies.