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What Dark and Twisty Dreams May Come

Meghan reviews Perchance to Dream, the second installment in Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata series, with a way to reinvigorate rail travel (hint: PIE TRAIN).

What Dark and Twisty Dreams May Come

BOOK REVIEW for Perchance to Dream (Theatre Illuminata Book 2) by Lisa Mantchev

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: Grimmtastic
Bonus Factors: Fairy Tales, Circus Folk, Tasty Business
Relationship Status: Still Friends With Potential

The Deal:

Since we last saw her in Eyes Like Stars, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has taken her act from the Theatre Illuminata on the road to rescue her love, Nate the pirate, who's been kidnapped by the evil sea goddess Sedna. Bertie's accompanied by the four annoying fairies from Midsummer Night's Dream and the hot troublemaker fairy Ariel from The Tempest (who happens to be in love with her, and she just might love him, too -- she's certainly warm for his form, for sure). NEways, they head out into the real world (well, but it's still more like Narnia or something than the real world) or at least the world beyond the theatre and Bertie discovers her talents as a Playwright and Teller of Tales, as well as a whole lot more about her past.

BFF Charm: Yay

Bertie totally needs a bff, what with Ariel trying to tempt her away from her quest to save Nate and things just not going as she planned. Remember Amelia Bedelia? Who cut up a calendar to make date cake because she was so freakin' literal? Yeah, Bertie has a bit of trouble with figurative language being interpreted in ways she doesn't intend. And she also needs someone with a flyswatter to keep those fairies away. I mean, Moth, Peaseblossom and Co. are cute sometimes but also super freakin' annoying. So Bertie needs someone who has her back, and not just out of self interest. I did love how by the end, she TOTALLY knows what to do with that secret admirer love note you found in yr locker after biology class. I think the third book is going to be what makes is bf4eva, but I've gotta slap some sense into her when it comes to Ariel. JUST SAY NO TO FAERIES.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Sadly, no naked hot tub pirates in this book. And Ariel is supposed to be a swoony romantic lead, but I just thought he was cuhREEEEpy in this book. HOT in the first, but a total no go in this one. Remember Wooderson in Dazed and Confused? All, "the best thing about high school girls is I keep getting older and they stay the same age"? Yeah. Total sleaze? That's Ariel. Tricky, manipulative and self interested (hm? Edward Cullen, table for one?). This guy has nothing on Nate, and since the book is about rescuing Nate from his horrible underwater prison, Nate takes a back seat to Ariel. There are some moments with Nate to save the swoonworthiness from the depths, but not enough for me. TEAM NATE!

Talky Talk: Grimmtastic

So the first book is all Shakespeared out, but while this one hangs on tightly to Hamlet, it's really more of the scary old-school deep, dark forest northern European fairy tale variety. Like the yr-dad-cuts-off-yr-fingers-and-drowns-you-after-selling-you-out-to-the-first-random-guy-who-comes-along scary fairy tale variety. The sea goddess is an Inuit goddess, but there are also loads of references to The Little Mermaid, by that other famous Dane Hans Christian Andersen. Also shades of Alice in Wonderland, Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton. So, dark and twisty.

Bonus Factor: Fairy Tales

Fairy tales! And not the current crop of teen swoony fairy stuff, OR the Disney cotton candy princess fairy tales. I'm talkin' good old scary fairy shizz with Inuit birdmen and drowning and magic medallions carved from finger bones and major consequences and murderous parents and child eating (although I don't think there's child eating in this book). The book's majorly about Bertie's discovery of her own magic and inner powers, and her struggle to stand her ground as earth (heh) against air and sea reads just like an old-school people-think-they're-too-scary-for-kids-these-days fairy tale.

Bonus Factor: Circus Folk

Part Cirque du Soleil, part freaky goblins from Labyrinth and part scary carnies from Ray Bradbury or an 80s movie, the Innamorati Circus Bertie and Co. hook up with are wicked freaky. This could be a great bonus factor, but also consider it a warning if you, like Austin Powers, are afraid of carnies.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business

Bertie's entourage of pixies think about nothing but food. So there's lots of discussion of cakes and cookies and cupcakes. In fact, the Innamorati's train has a PIE CAR! A WHOLE DINING CAR FOR PIES!! Really, that is all the argument I need to bring back rail travel in the US. PIE CARS.

Casting Call:

David Bowie as the Scrimshander

The Scrimshander, who's a half-bird, half-man creature out of Inuit mythology, could be no one else but spandex-tights-wearing, dance magic Labyrinth-era David Bowie.

Helena Bonham Carter as Sedna

Since the only director I could imagine for these movies is Tim Burton (hello! Costumes from Alice in Wonderland are PERFECT for this book), Helena Bonham Carter HAS to be in the movie. And she'd be a wicked awesome Sedna -- bitter, vengeful, manhating, angry. She's got those down.

Relationship Status: Still Good Friends With Potential

I know, I'm totally holding out on these books. I really want to wait until the last one before I commit to anything long term, but i still really like them a lot. I know I'm at risk of friend-zoning them, but I'd rather do that than ruin our friendship with dating. We might have kissed a few times that one night, though, and pretended like nothing happened the next day.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.