All her world’s a stage.
Bertie Shakespeare Smith is not an actress, yet she lives in a theater. She’s not an orphan, but she has no parents. She knows every part, but she has no lines of her own. That is, until now.
Enter Stage Right
NATE. Dashing pirate. Will do anything to protect Bertie.
COBWEB, MOTH, MUSTARD SEED, and PEASEBLOSSOM. Four tiny and incredibly annoying fairies. BERTIE’S sidekicks.
ARIEL. Seductive air spirit and Bertie’s weakness. The symbol of impending doom.
BERTIE. Our heroine.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the actors of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Théâtre by The Book — an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, but they are her family — and she is about to lose them all and the only home she has ever known.
I had an incredibly difficult time putting this one down. I want to say I didn’t love it because lets face it… the plot kept pulling me in, then pushing me out, and I found the resolution sadly unfulfilling. However, I loved every bit of the characters and while I had issues with Nate and Ariel being romantic interests (as they felt so old and far away from Bertie) I also know that I wanted so badly for everything to work out with Nate at the end of the book (no further spoilers here!)
The writing at the very end was magnificent. While I didn’t care for Bertie’s overall decision, the way she “saved the day” was perfectly written and felt magical to me even as I read it.
I’m finding it difficult to write this review without spoilers, so bear with me.
The publisher and the cover struck me immediately on this book, and although it is something I won’t normally comment on, I did want to just mention how visually perfect the cover was. A lot of YA fantasy these days uses photography on the cover, but the artistry used to create the cover of Eyes Like Stars and the rest of the series is just absolutely beautiful.
I think the one important thing to keep in mind with this series is that the characters within may have been created in a certain way within certain stories… but Mantchev does not necessarily use them as such. The Shakespearean (etc.) characters have much of their own personalities that become visible offstage, something I both loved and hated (character dependent). One should not expect the heroes of beloved plays to be quite as heroic. This is, after all, but one person’s interpretation.
That being said, for anyone who gets excited by the idea of allusions, or is familiar with the workings of the theatre world, this book is a must-read. It is very unique, and utterly captivating.