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Wondrous Strange by Leslie Livingston

Kelley Winslow is a 17-year old actress living in New York City, where she shares an apartment with a high-maintenance girl named Tyff. Kelley's been working for an off-off-Broadway company staging a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Kelley's the understudy for a much-older hack, who we never really meet, since she is neatly disposed of right at the start of the book, leaving Kelley about two weeks to nail the role of the Fairy Queen, Titania, before the curtain goes up.

While rehearsing some of her lines in Central Park, Kelley attracts the attention of Sonny Flannery, a changeling boy raised by Auberon, the Faerie king, to be a Janus (a guardian of the gate between the Faerie world and our world, located in Central Park, naturally). Sonny attracts Kelley's attention, too, and there is quite a lot of lovely push me-pull you to and fro-ing between them for a while, all of which makes me tremendously happy. To say nothing of meeting Puck, and Auberon, and Queen Mabh, and more as the story unfolds (and no - I'm not talking about characters in A Midsummer Night's Dream, as you probably guess once I added Mabh to the mix). Also in the story? Piskies, redcaps, a kelpie, a siren, a dryad, various faeries, hellhounds, and Herne the Great Hunter (whom I've not seen since Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper, in which I liked everything but the ending - it's more than two years since I finished reading that book, and lo, I am STILL SCREAMING at how that book ended the Dark is Rising sequence). But I digress.

Much to like in this book: the incorporation of so much Shakespeare (both through direct quotes and a few key plot devices) makes me a happy, happy girl. The incorporation of Arthurian legend (such as Queen Mab and Herne the Hunter and more) makes me a happy, happy girl. And the proactive female main character who is, as you may suspect, not merely a struggling actress after all, is a terrific thing as well. I love her in the same way that I loved Zara in Need, by Carrie Jones, and Deirdre in Lament by Maggie Stiefvater. Kelley is feisty, and she is decidedly taking no crap from anyone - mortal or otherwise.

If you're a fan of urban fantasy (I think that's the proper classification for these books - my knowledge of fantasy categories isn't precise, and I think of them all as fantasies with romance, but I think they're technically "urban fantasy" - someone correct me if I'm wrong). That said, a rose by any other name and all . . . it's a fantasy with romance in it. And it completely sucked me into the world of the book, and made me happy, so happy. And I will be re-reading it sometime soon, the way I did with both Need and Lament, because now that I've gulped it down to find out what happens, I want to go back and savor it a bit more on a second read. (That said, I've read Need four times now, and Lament thrice, so, um, I may not stop with a second read.)

Let's see - what else to tell you? The cover is lovely, although not nearly so bright and clear as the image on the screen. It's the same girl and all, but it's way more shadowed and dark than what you see here, and the red of hair is discernable, but just barely, as opposed to flaming as it does in the online cover. And I'm happy to report that there will be a sequel - TWO, in fact - which I learned by digging around a little on Lesley Livingston's blog. Man, I really enjoyed this book. So much so that I'm a bit peeved that M snatched it up already; otherwise, I'd read it again. Tonight, even.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 24th, 2009 12:40 am (UTC)
Ah...This looks like my kind of book!
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
Dude, it is so your kind of book. I will be astonished if you don't like it.
Feb. 24th, 2009 02:07 am (UTC)
Have you read Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside by Holly Black? That's what your description of this book reminds me of, and I would definetly classify those as Urban Fantasy (I think that's my new favorite genre name!)
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
I read part of Tithe, but found it a bit too dark for my liking, and never finished. I really ought to rectify that. Wondrous Strange is really well-done, and decidedly in the same category as the other two books I cited, and I'm pretty positive that Maggie classifies her book as urban fantasy (which has a catchy name, I must say, even if it sounds like a decorating term as much as anything else).
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Feb. 24th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
I think you'll enjoy it - it's well done, and fast-paced, and I really love all the Shakespeare quotes.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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