Eyes Like Stars
by Lisa Mantchev
Rating: 5 ♥ / 5 ♥
All her world’s a stage.
Enter Stage Right
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (Bertie): Our heroine.
Nate: A dashing pirate who will do anything to protect Bertie.
Cobweb, Moth, Mustardseed, and Peaseblossom: Four tiny, mischievous fairies, and Bertie’s loyal sidekicks.
Ariel: A seductive air spirit. Disaster follows in his wake, but Bertie simply cannot resist him.
Welcome to the Théâtre Illuminata, where the characters of every play ever written can be found behind the curtain. The actors are bound to the Théâtre by The Book, an ancient and magical tome of scripts. Bertie is not one of the actors, but they are her family. And she is about to lose them all because The Book has been threatened, and along with it the Théâtre. It’s the only home Bertie has ever known, and she has to find a way to save it. But first, there’s the small problem of two handsome men, both vying for her attention. The course of true love never did run smooth…
Eyes Like Stars is an English majors dream. The wonderful mix of traditional fairy tales, Shakespeare and contemporary was all pulled together by one strong-willed, blue-haired, teenage heroine and some pesky Shakespearian fairies.
Bertie has only ever known life in the Théâtre – it’s where she was raised. There, she spends her days amidst the sets, scenery and characters from all plays ever written (though Shakespeare and The Little Mermaid are most heavily featured). The Book holds all actors to the Théâtre – they can never leave. Unfortunately, Ariel, a spirit from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, gets it into his head that Bertie is the one that can help him leave the Théâtre. Through a penchant for eavesdropping, he discovers the way to set the players free from the Théâtre resides with The Book. Bertie, being threatened with banishment herself, suddenly finds herself racing against time to stop Ariel, save The Book (and the Théâtre), and stage a play of her own, while all around her secrets begin to unravel about who she is, and why she’s at the Théâtre.
I really loved that the focus was kept on the main characters by the fact that many of the secondary characters had no names. There was the Stage Manager, the Theatre Manager, the Chorus boys and Girls, etc. Much to do with the Théâtre is kept shrouded in mystery, and we learn it as Bertie learns it. Bertie is quite a strong-willed, independent girl – she’s grown up in the Théâtre with only the department heads and actors to take care of her. She’s also flawed (which I liked. More realistic). Bertie makes mistakes while believing she’s doing the right thing. She always tries to right her wrongs hen she discovers them, and even though she knows Ariel is up to no good she finds herself hard pressed to resist him. The four fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream are just hilarious. They’re full of energy, spunk and crazy shenanigans and they genuinely care for Bertie. Likewise, Nate is an honest, selfless character who makes sure to keep an eye on Bertie (and he likes her, of course!). Ariel, on the other hand, grated on my nerves. He’s a sweet talker who lives in half truths and lies to get what he wants. He may genuinely care for Bertie, but he has a crazy way of showing it. Even at the end of the book I still didn’t trust him, and wondered if he was going to get Bertie in trouble somehow.
The plot moved along great, and the writing was wonderfully descriptive. It conveyed the setting and the emotions of the characters really well; I was completely absorbed in Bertie’s story. There were enough little twists and turns that I was kept guessing and interested, and even though the ending is not completely resolved (first book in a series after all), the main storyline of the book is wrapped up quite nicely. Even though it is the first book in a series, it reads like a stand-alone novel. I never felt like I was waiting for more to be revealed, or that I’d be waiting for the next book to really feel who these characters are. Yes, there are parts left unanswered that will continue on, and there is always more character development to be had, but overall, Eyes Like Stars is a captivating adventure/romance with great characters, a great setting and a storyline you can really get involved in. I’ll definitely be picking up the next book in the series!