Book Review: Illyria

IllyriaIllyria by Elizabeth Hand

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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. I think this line from a review on Amazon sums it up nicely: “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.” I am too practical (and maybe not smart enough) for this book.

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