Review: PERCHANCE TO DREAM by Lisa Mantchev

 

” ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged,’ Mustardseed said, flying in lazy loops like an intoxicated bumblebee, ‘that a fairy in possession of a good appetite must be in want of pie.’ ”

Best opening line ever. You may beg to differ, but how can one not resist the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, first brought to life by Shakespeare, then given an injection of technicolor quirkiness in Mantchev’s Eyes Like Stars. And I must say, I loved Perchance to Dream even more than the first book. You’re probably wondering if you will, too. So, do you like…

…adorably rude fairies who randomly quote Shakespeare and any other play that pops into their little minds (oh, the intertextuality)?

…a no-nonsense young lady with a fab wardrobe, a quick wit, and an even quicker quill (which grants her considerable power)?

…a smoldering silver-haired air spirit and/or charmingly gruff, well-muscled pirate boy (I’m on Team Ariel, and plan to steal him all for myself)?

…a journey through fantastical lands with a caravan of quirky characters and then a troupe inspired by Cirque du Soleil (pretty, pretty descriptions)?

If you answered yes to more than one of those questions, I think that seals the deal. Go read Perchance to Dream. Yes, you may have minor quibbles with the story–I spent a fair portion of the book grumbling at Bertie to make a particular decision, but then of course if she did what I wanted her to, the plot would be derailed. Nevertheless, I’m expecting satisfaction from the third book in the series, So Silver Bright.

I was lucky enough to have an ARC of Perchance to Dream sent to me by the author herself, and I’m happy to have savored this literary treat before its official release date of May 25. For those who must wait, it’s worth it.

Review – EYES LIKE STARS by Lisa Mantchev

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.