Sunday, May 16, 2010
Wondrous Strange - Lesley Livingston
Title: Wondrous Strange
Author: Lesley Livingston
Publisher: Harper Trophy Canada, 2009 (Paperback)
Length: 327 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: May 15, 2010
Finished: May 16, 2010
From the publisher's website:
Kelley Winslow is living her dream. Seventeen years old, she has moved to New York City and started to work with a theatre company. Sure, she’s only an understudy for the Avalon Players, a third-tier repertory company so far off- Broadway it might as well be in Hoboken, but things are looking up—the lead has broken her ankle and Kelley’s about to step into the role of Titania the Faerie Queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Faeries are far more real than Kelley thinks, though, and a chance encounter in Central Park with a handsome young man named Sonny Flannery plunges her into an adventure she could never have imagined.
Sonny is a Janus Guard, charged by Auberon, the King of Winter, with watching over the gate into the land of Faerie, which lies within Central Park. For Sonny, the pretty, young actress is an enigma. Strong and willful, she sparks against his senses like a firecracker, and he can’t get her out of his mind. As Hallowe’en approaches and the Samhain Gate opens, Sonny and Kelley find themselves drawn to each other—and into a terrible plot that could spell disaster for both New York and Faerie alike.
I thank the gods of books everywhere, I have finally found a fairy/faerie novel that I like! And the author's Canadian to boot! Excuse me for a moment as I perform my "we Canadians are awesome" dance...okay I'm done now.
Seriously, I enjoyed Wondrous Strange a lot, and the fact that the author happens to be Canadian was a nice bonus. It was also nominated as a Forest of Reading title this year, and as I should remember, the Forest of Reading titles are always good in my experience. The plot starts out as something similar to other fairy novels but quickly distinguishes itself to become engrossing and just plain enchanting. Kelley encounters Sonny one night in Central Park as he's on duty guarding the Samhain gate for Auberon, King of the Unseelie Court. Kelley's practicing her lines as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Sonny overhears her and believes she's addressing him. The way the two meet is just as sweet as how their relationship unfolds, and the scenes between the two are simply heartwarming. The romance does develop a little quickly, but the sheer cuteness of Kelley and Sonny together makes my suspension of disbelief happen a little quicker. I like how the narration is always third person but alternates between Kelley and Sonny's perspectives until the two meet, it's very seamless and I didn't realize the author was doing it. The plot itself was fast paced and moved along quite nicely with no low points. Although some parts were slightly predictable, there were points where the story actually surprised me, which is impressive because I can usually tell where a story is going (which is a downside of reading as much as I do). My favourite part was the illusion of the Wild Hunt, it was very creative and was just a really appealing scene. The novel is the first of a series, and although some aspects are left open-ended to continue in the next installment, the main plot points wrap up nicely in the end. I will definitely be checking out the sequel, Darklight, which is already out now.
Read this now! If you're looking for a (finally) good example of a faerie novel or just good Canadian YA literature, you have to check this out.
Thoughts on the cover:
Though I'm not a big fan of covers whose only focus is a person's face, this one pulls it off relatively well. The girl on the cover actually looks like how Kelley is described, although her eyes are a bit too dark to be green. The dark blue background is really striking against the dark red of her hair and the white dress.