- Paperback: 356 pages
- Publisher: Square Fish (13 April 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312608667
- ISBN-13: 978-0312608668
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.6 x 21.1 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 1.2 Kg
- Customer Reviews: 36 customer ratings
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Eyes Like Stars Paperback – 13 April 2010
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"Lisa Mantchev's theatrical fantasy 'Eyes Like Stars' pits a plucky orphan, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, and her fairy attendants against the wiles of Ariel and a stuffy stage manager." --New York Times Book Review
"All the world's truly a stage in Lisa Mantchev's innovative tale, Eyes Like Stars. Magical stagecraft, unmanageable fairies, and a humourous cast of classical characters form the backdrop for this imaginative coming-of age." --Suzanne Collins
"With an iron-willed girl hero whose magic is with words, and a universe that is also the ultimate theater, Eyes Like Stars is the most unusual fantasy I've read this year! I recommend it to anyone who loves drama, strong girls, and rowdy faery folk!" --Tamora Pierce
"Electric...delicious...fascinating...vivid...smart and sassy...bawdy and hilarious...Brava! Encore!" --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
"Bertie's determined efforts to become invaluable form the basic plot in this wildly imagined adventure...Mantchev clearly knows theater from all angles, and she uses inventive play-within-play formats to create a tumble of multiple, even metaphysical narratives filled with delicious banter and familiar characters from the dramatic canon. Many teens, particularly those with some theatrical background, will look forward to the sequel suggested at the end of this bravely flamboyant and wholly original romp." --Booklist
"Mantchev's first novel feels dreamlike...underneath is a solid story about the search for happiness and identity. Inside jokes will delight drama club devotees...but this passionate debut should attract a broader readership as well." --Publishers Weekly
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I loved the fact that this audiobook uses a full cast - it allows for full immersion into the story and greater connection with the characters. The voices chosen for almost all characters fit their personalities to a tee.
I would love to see the rest of this trilogy in audiobook format with this same voice cast.
Top international reviews
First off, fair warning, Lisa Mantchev is an old friend of mine from the mid 90s. However time and space and life being what it is, I fell away from many friends from that time in my life. Then Facebook came and a couple of months ago, I reconnected with this old friend, found out she was a published author and her book was about a magical theater.
Well, I'm an actor, a director, and a playwright and this seemed like the sort that would be right up my alley. But I resisted. I wasn't sure why but I did. Perhaps the gods of the theater weren't smiling on me? Perhaps Puck or Thespis or Ariel were conspiring against me. I'm not sur. I kept suggesting the book to everyone I met but not reading it myself.
I then bought it one day on Amazon. I had some credit left on a gift card and decided to use part of it on this.
I'm glad I did.
Few books move me the way this book did.
I repeat that for dramatic reasons but also because it's true.
This is a book that is about the magic of the stage, this is a book about the power of writing, this is a book about a young girl finding her way and her place, and this is also a book about a girl finding her mother.
I love the theater and found my "home" on the stage, just as Beatrice Shakespeare Smith did. I am a playwright and director, just like Bertie. And I'm adopted.
This isn't a typical review that gives an overview of the story. This is emotional gut feelings coming out.
This isn't Twilight transposed to the theater, this is wholly unique. This is...well it's magic. It made this writer of theater believe in the power of theater again. It made me long to see the stars in the eyes of young actors as they discover the power of theater too.
Also Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed are awesome!
Read this book! Not because Lisa is a friend of mine, but because she is an amazing writer who has told an amazing story filled with rich characters.
The Theatre Illuminata with its magical book of plays, eccentric characters, and all the friends she's ever known is Bertie Shakespeare Smith's home and she's dismayed to learn that the Theater Manager wants her to leave and strike out on her own. How can she leave? It means too much to her! With the Theater Manager's word that she can stay if she can find an invaluable way to contribute to the theater, Bertie sets out to restage Hamlet--not an easy task when four annoying fairies are always fluttering around, the Players are adverse to change, and Ariel, the air spirit of The Tempest fame, is doing what he can to make sure Bertie fails in her task.
What really makes Eyes Like Stars shine above anything else (any pun you might have seen there never happened) is the characters. Bertie's conflict is relatable--it can parallel anyone's fears of leaving home or a familiar place for the unknown--and she's complex too. She makes mistakes like all teenagers do and no one is afraid to call her on it when she does. The love interests Nate and Ariel both have great chemistry with Bertie (if you read the tango scene and still try to say Ariel and Bertie have no chemistry together, stop reading right now because we're not going to agree on anything about this book), but I've got my issues with both of them and I'm not quite sold on them yet. Even more than Bertie did, Ophelia stood out to me and even after my fifth re-read of this book, she remains my favorite character.
Two more fitting words for the book? Funny and clever. The comedic timing is perfect and it's harder to find a line that isn't quotable than one that is. The four fairy sidekicks from A Midsummer Night's Dream provide plenty of comic relief and the narration itself isn't afraid of a witty quip or two. To the book's benefit, the understated prose keeps the focus on what's going on with the characters rather than on the words. The irony of this in a book with a focus on the power of words isn't lost on me. When I was reading it, I thought, This is how I want to write. Why can't I be this good? *jealous*
The big reveal at the end felt too sudden and a little rushed, and I wasn't sure why Bertie had completely forgotten her childhood like she did. It's one thing for another character to forget what happened while they were away from the theater, but what about Bertie? She didn't seem to know about it because she never thought about it beforehand and she seemed just as surprised as everyone else when it was explained. What caused her selective amnesia? She's got to remember something about it, right? I hate to think it or put it into words, but it seems like a choice made for plot convenience. Not knowing about how she spent her younger years made the plot run more smoothly, but it leaves questions like this unanswered.
Despite my fussing, I love this book and the series to pieces. It saddens me that there is so little attention paid to it (as far as I've seen, not many people have heard of it) and then far worse series regularly top bestseller lists with each new installment. Bad books pile up like muck and you've really got to dig to get to the good books, the buried treasure. Hopefully, this will change; I've already got plans to recommend the entire series to my local library and a few teachers I know so that others can be caught in the spell of the Theatre Illuminata and give it the attention and adoration it rightly deserves.
All her world's a stage...Beatrice 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. Until now. Welcome to the Theatre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. They were born to play their parts, and are bound to the Theatre by The Book- an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of them, buth they are her family - she is about to loose them all and the only home she has ever known.
This is just a phenomonal book! It is so unique, so well written and so wonderfully visual. By my account, one of the first signs of a great book is when I barely have to try and visualize the story. With great writing the story simply "appears" with little effort as I'm reading. Oh that's just heaven for me the reader!
I also simply adored all the central characters in this story! Even the "bad" guys have their own appeal! Bertie (Beatrice) our heroine, is an eaisly likeable lead and lets just say her ever-present sidekicks, the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream, will keep you rolling. I was laughing so much even my non-reader of a husband kept asking me what was so funny!
I don't want to give you too much info but...we follow Bertie as she desperatly seeks a way not to loose her beloved theatre (it would seem some people do not apprectiate her oft lively shenanigans.) Along the way Bertie finds herself in a love triangle (oh that always makes things so much more spicier!) and clues to her mysterious past. Maybe Bertie will finally find out exactly how she found her way to the Theatre Illuminata.
This book will do great in middle school on up. Even kids who aren't familiar with the multiple play characters will still enjoy the story, but having the prior knowledge just makes it that much better.
Bertie has lived in the theatre with the players and the various theatre managers as long as she can remember. Even her bedroom is on the stage, and it disappears below stage when there is a scene change. But after Bertie causes too much mischief at the theatre, the Theatre Manager tells her that she has to leave the theatre unless she can find some invaluable way to contribute--a challenge that Bertie takes very seriously. She enlists the help of all her friends at the theatre, and together they help her rise to the occasion.
There are appearances of many of Shakespeare's characters in this book, which was great (Ophelia shows up and asks if she can drown herself). Also, the depiction of theatre dynamic, with people arguing about what constitutes a prop vs. what constitutes a part of a person's wardrobe vs. what constitutes a part of the scenery was hilarious.
There were two romantic interests for Bertie. One was Ariel, a seductive ghost-like creature, and the other is Nate, a pirate. I personally am pulling for Ariel, even though I hope she saves Nate eventually. I know it looked like she really liked Nate and all, and he is really protective and caring of her, but I can't resist Ariel's charisma. And he really did come through for Bertie in the end.
Anyway, it's a great book. And it's different. It paints a magical picture of theatre drama, what goes on both on-stage and off.
I saw a tweet about this book by author Nicole Peeler (Tempest Rising. Check it out too.), saying she enjoyed the book. As I enjoyed "Tempest Rising" so well, I thought I would check out Eyes Like Stars as well. It did not disappoint.
I love the idea that all the characters of every play ever written are walking around the Theatre Illuminata, interacting with each other and the theatre management. I love that Ophelia (from Macbeth) is drawn to water in any form. I love that the fairies from Midsummer Night's Dream play with Bertie and have a thing for pastries. (In the interest of full disclosure, I was Titania as a child. So I already knew the fairies. It was good to see them again.). I have never read The Tempest, but am tempted to now, just to see how the Ariel character here compares to the original Ariel character.
As with any book containing public domain characters, the better you know the source material, the more entertaining the book will be. However, I just shamelessly copped to not knowing anything about The Tempest, and I don't feel this impacted my enjoyment of the book in a negative way. Your mileage may vary, but don't let lack of familiarity with Shakespeare hold you back on this one.
Can't wait for book 2 to be released on kindle. Bertie's adventures outside the theatre are sure to be hair-raising. Great job, Ms. Mantchev!
I loved all the characters in this book especially Bertie's four faerie friends Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed. They were so funny!!!!! Bertie was an amazing character. She was very strong and wouldn't take crap from anyone.
I can't wait to see what happens in the next book!!!!!
The fairies are hysterical and provide excellent comic relief. The supporting cast members are well-developed and special in unique ways. Overall a magnificent tale and I'm very excited to keep reading the rest of the series.