EYES LIKE STARS, BY LISA MANTCHEV published July 2009 by Feiwel & Friends
Eyes Like Stars is one of the those books whose premis is somewhat difficult to explain (the offical synopsis is very vague). Basically the novel stars Bertie, a wild and blue-haired girl who lives in a magical theater along with thousands of characters from Shakespearean and otherwise plays. (But mostly just Shakespeare.) Bertie's best friends are the fun-loving (and argumentative) faeries from A Midsummer Night's Dream, her bedroom is located on a trapdoor over the stage of the Theatre where pirate ships frequently dock and plays are performed nightly, and the Theatre bathrooms are more often than not occupied by Ophelia trying to drown herself. If all of that didn't make for a pretty hectic lifestyle, Bertie is also constantly at war over props and wall colors with the Stage Manager-- one of the few non-Player characters in the book.
Bertie has two love interests, in the grand tradition of YA love triangles: Nate-- a swashbuckling and yet surprisingly pure-hearted young pirate who has captured Bertie's heart; and Ariel-- a seductive, brooding, and decidedly untrustworthy air spirit who hails from The Tempest. It is Ariel who is determined to steal the Book which contains all the plays ever written and binds the players to the Theatre, therefore releasing them onto the real world.
The writing of Eyes like Stars is occasionally a little difficult to follow-- I had to reread paragraphs a few times. But the characters themselves are what makes the story, just like they make a great play. Bertie is a headstrong and wacky kind of heroine and the dialogue is pretty funny, especially wherever the faeries are involved. After finishing the book, I am definitely Team Ariel...
...And I see that he and (a brunette??) Bertie are on the front cover of Lisa Mantchev's newest book Perchance to Dream, the sequel to Eyes like Stars! (Which is even now moving up to the top of my to-read list.) The third and last book in the trilogy-- So Silver Bright-- is set to release sometime in 2011.
Eyes Like Stars is an unusual and witty fantasy populated by unique and lovable characters. And it's absolutely a must-read for Shakespeare and theatre fans.