Plot: Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, Bertie, grew up in the Théâtre Illuminata, a magic theater housing characters from every play ever produced. Bertie has left her home with her company: four mischievous fairies from a Midsummer Night’s Dream and Ariel, the dangerous and seductive air spirit from the Tempest. They are on a quest to rescue Nate, Bertie’s pirate beau, stolen from her by the sea goddess Sedna. On the way Bertie will meet new friends and find out a great deal about her father, her feelings for the two men in her life and her mysterious power over words.
This series has been a true treat and at this point I will buy anything with Lisa Mantchev’s name on it.
Mantchev’s tale is well crafted and beautifully written. She mixes prose and plays, witty dialogue and theater quotes seamlessly. In this volume, Bertie leaves the Théâtre for a world just as magical and theatrical. She meets fascinating, fantastical characters and learns more about her power of words, though they cause as much trouble as help. Her adventures are endlessly exciting and never slow down.
The romance in the series is poignant and beautiful. Bertie is torn between two men who both love her passionately and jealously. She loves them both, each in their own way, but refuses to belong to either of them. Bertie is no damsel in distress looking for a happily ever after. In fact, it is Bertie who is on a mission to save the captured “prince”. Both suitors are charming and imperfect; I love them and get infuriated with them alongside Bertie. I look forward to their continued striving for her affection.
There will be a third act in the Théâtre Illuminata series, entitled So Silver Bright, which is set to be released in 2011 but there is little other information available. The second book ends on less of a cliffhanger than the first so I can wait. A little.
I can’t talk about this series without mentioning the gorgeous cover art by Jason Chan. No matter how nice, few cover artists can match the images in my head. Chan truly captures Bertie, Nate and Ariel in his eye catching visuals. You can see a little about his work on Mantchev’s website.
You can see more of Chan’s art and hear some beautiful music in the book trailer below:
Also very apropos is the pop-up book version of the trailer: