This is the second book in the Theatre Illuminata trilogy by Lisa Mantchev. It was more wondrous and adventurous than the first book in the series, “Eyes Like Stars”, I enjoyed it a lot. I got this book as an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) through the Amazon Vine program.
In this book Bertie has left the Theatre with Aeriel at her side. They are going in search of Bertie’s sweetheart Nate (the pirate who was kidnapped by Sedna, the witch from The Little Mermaid). Bertie also hopes to find information on who her father is, after the strange news in book one that Ophelia is her mother. Along the way they will meet a myriad of crazy characters and Bertie will have to make a choice between Nate and Aeriel. Of course the three ever-present fairies accompany the party providing snarky comments and trouble throughout the story.
Many parts of this story are much better than “Eyes Like Stars”, the first novel in this series. It was wonderful to be out of the Theatre and in the countryside. Mantchev did an excellent job coming up with quirky characters and a creative backdrop for her story. The writing is more polished than in the first book and the descriptions of things are decadent and lush; if a bit quirky sounding at times. There is a lot more action and adventure in this book which I enjoyed; I thought Mantchev did a great job with the action scenes too. If I had to give the strengths of this novel I would say that creativity and intriguing imagery are what Mantchev excels at.
This book is a fun read, the fairies provide a lot of humor. It is a sweet book that is light on violence and heavy on romance; by romance I mean the general romantic kind…full of sweet kisses, gentle cuddles, and beautiful descriptions the drip with jewels and glitter. Aeriel is a wonderful character and, as with the majority of the characters in this book, is very grey in nature…he is not good or evil but something in between. I did not envy Bertie at having to choose between Nate and Aeriel, both are excellent male leads that are intriguing and kind in different ways.
My least favorite part about this book was still Bertie. She does not whine as much as in the last book and her dialogue is a bit more mature. But she still comes off as helpless and a bit stupid at times. I was very frustrated when she couldn’t figure out how to use the magic book…after making mistakes with it a number of times, she continued to word things poorly and make more mistakes. I guess I just like my heroines a bit more quick of mind. I also thought her reactions to things were very immature. Again this is a personal preference. I liked her better than in the first book, but I still don’t like her all that much.
I also thought that Bertie’s “magic” wasn’t really defined all that well. It was a bit confusing how she needed the book to work magic, then later on she didn’t. Much of the book has a dreamlike quality to it as we are tossed in and out of Bertie’s “reality”. Mantchev tried to make this clear, but it is a confusing concept and it could have been made a bit cleaner and clearer.
Overall though this is was a fun read. If you liked “Eyes Like Stars” you will like this book even better. Mantchev’s writing style has matured, and her creativity is unmatched. She does an excellent job with imagery too. If I could just like Bertie better I would be thrilled with this book. I do look forward to reading the third book in this series!