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I’m A-Going To Dance With My Princess, By the Light of the Magical Moon

Jenny liked Illyria by Elizabeth Hand, in spite of the icky nature of the premise.

I’m A-Going To Dance With My Princess, By the Light of the Magical Moon

BOOK REPORT for Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

BFF Charm: Maybe?
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Through the Glass Dimly
Bonus Factors: Les Cousins Dangereux, Twelfth Night, Marc Bolan!
Relationship Status: Forbidden Love

The Deal:

Madeline (Maddy) and Rogan Tierney are cousins. Their fathers are identical twins, and they are part of a prestigious theatre clan of old. Of course, nobody in the family has had anything to do with performing arts since their great grandmother, a famous NY actress and Maddy's namesake. Maddy and Rogan were born on the same day-- she in the morning, he at night, and they have always considered themselves twins. They are also in love. When they aren't being ignored by their families at large, they are given worried glances and told not to spend so much time together. When a new teacher at their school holds auditions for the school's play, the two (along with their fellow cast mates) find themselves swept into the magic of Shakespeare, and a course is set that will change their lives.

BFF Charm: Maybe?

I liked Maddy. But I don't think she'd necessarily make a best friend. I'd just want to help her out, and that whole business is just too screwed up-- so I don't think I'd have the energy. As Rogan so aptly calls her his 'Mad-girl', there is a touch of the artistic madness in her, but I would also say that she is a sad girl. They both are. As the youngest in their families, they are victims of neglect, a bit, and I'm not sure either of them were ever able to grow much beyond their circumstance. Maddy walks through her adolescence feeling diminished, only really happy when Rogan is in the spotlight, and although I hate that kind of old-fashioned man-worship, this story had a certain 'other' quality to it that prevented it from falling into that trap. She might not recognize it early on, but Maddy is the strong one.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

So the romance between these two kissing cousins (and by kissing I mean having sex) is pretty intense, and doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. Honestly, I spent most of the book wondering when they were going to find out they weren't really related or that there was something magical going on that was beyond their control. (i.e. I read too many fantasy books, obvs, but also because I was disturbed by the whole cousin thing. That, in turn, made me feel a hypocrite, because when it was Clary and Jace, I was all "go for it, it doesn't matter if you're brother and sister!")

However, by the end of the book, though my heart felt a little heavy, I was at peace with this romance.

Talky Talk: Through the Glass Dimly

I do not think this book was necessarily written as YA literature. With the growth of YA as a genre, I think publishers are sometimes letting YA be a catch-all for books they don't know where else to put, so long as their protagonists at least start the story as teens. However, I would be happy if teens read this, because it is told as a memory, lyrical and poetic. Elizabeth Hand's descriptive narrative made me feel I could taste and touch right along with her characters. Her writing is haunting. There is the sense of the magical, yet it always hovers around the edges, never stepping into the light.

Bonus Factor: Les Cousins Dangereux

It was all fun and games when it concerned George Michael and Maeby, but this intricate love story is both repellent and heartbreaking.

Bonus Factor: Twelfth Night

So this is one of my favorite plays (and, okay, movies, but only cause I'm a sucker for Helena Bonham Carter) but the magic spell that is cast when people really do Shakespeare right is, well, a magical spell, I guess.

Bonus Factor: Marc Bolan!

Okay, so there's this one line in on page 89 of the book describing the magical change that is taking place amongst the high school kids putting on Twelfth Night, and it says how they started listening to Marc Bolan's Electric Warrior, which, of course, is only one of the GREATEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME!!!!!! And thus, insured my undying love for Elizabeth Hand. So much so that I took two words from the book and turned it into a bonus factor. That's magic, y'all.

Casting Call:

Mia Wasikowska as Maddy

I'm not gonna lie. She's my favorite. But she's also, in my opinion, the best young actress of her age: versatile, strong, and with the ability to transform during a performance in the exact way Maddy does.

River Phoenix as Rogan

Obvs. this is a fantasy casting, but honestly, I can't think of ONE SINGLE young actor today who could pull off Rogan. But River could have, and if it had been him, I might not have cared if he were my cousin, either.

Relationship Status: Forbidden Love

I really felt like I shouldn't love this book. I mean, the disapproving glances in our general direction from everyone around me should have been enough to cause me to break it off. But the book itself was stronger than all that. Its haunting beauty called to me. I couldn't turn away from it, so instead, I embraced its open pages until its story was told.

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!).

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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