Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act Iby Lisa Mantchev
The fantastic first novel in Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata trilogy
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/b>
The fantastic first novel in Lisa Mantchev's Theatre Illuminata trilogy
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. Nate, a dashing pirate who will do anything to protect Bertie, and Ariel, a seductive air spirit. The course of true love never did run smooth. . . .
With Eyes LIke Stars, Lisa Mantchev has written a debut novel that is dramatic, romantic, and witty, with an irresistible and irreverent cast of characters who are sure to enchant the audience.
“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
Read an Excerpt
The fairies flew suspended on wires despite their tendency to get tangled together. Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, busy assessing her reflection in the looking glass and thinking perhaps she shouldn’t have dyed her hair blue on this particular morning, turned to glare at them when they rocketed past the end of her nose for the third time in as many minutes.
“If you make me spill this stuff on the stage,” she said, “I’ll squeeze you until your heads pop off.”
Unperturbed by the threat, Mustardseed swung by her like a demented pendulum. “Going in there with fairy guts on your hands isn’t going to make a good impression!”
“Nervous about your call to the Theater Manager’s Office?” Moth asked, chasing Peaseblossom in circles.
“Not the best of timing,” Cobweb singsonged, hanging upside down at the end of his line, “mucking up your head right before a ten o’clock summons.”
“I’m not getting called on the carpet with my roots showing.” Bertie coated another section with Cobalt Flame liquid concentrate, pilfered just an hour ago from the Wardrobe Department. “Do we like the blue?”
“Better than Crimson Pagoda,” Peaseblossom said. “Your entire head looked like it was on fire that time.”
“Maybe I should have taken Black Cherry.” Bertie stuck her tongue out at the Beatrice-in- the-mirror. “Maybe Cobalt Flame will encourage the Theater Manager to get creative with his punishment.”
“He’ll probably just remove the desserts from the Green Room again,” Peaseblossom said.
The others groaned at the prospect, then Moth perked up to suggest, “He could make you scrub out the toilets in the Ladies’ Dressing Room instead.”
“Or scrape the gum off the bottoms of the auditorium seats,” said Cobweb.
“Ew.” Bertie wrapped another strand of hair in aluminum foil and crimped it against her head. “An excessive punishment for whistling a scene change, don’t you think?”
“ ‘Whistling a scene change’?” Peaseblossom giggled. “That’s a euphemism and a half! You set off the cannon, blew holes through three set pieces, and set the fire curtain on fire.”
“Quite the valuable lesson in emergency preparedness, I think,” Bertie said.
Moth twitched his ears at her. “Pondering our recent criminal history, I must admit there have been more pyro-technic explosions than usual.”
“Maybe the Theater Manager thinks you’re doing it to impress Nate,” Cobweb said.
Bertie felt the blood rush to her face until her cheeks were stained Shocking Pink. “Shut up.”
“It is like you’re acting a part for the dashing pirate lad’s benefit,” Mustardseed said.
Bertie snagged his wire, reeling him in until he reached eye level. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
The fairy twitched. “You know. The hair dye, the black clothes—”
“The clove cigarettes!” Moth added from below.
“The drinking and cursing,” said Cobweb.
“Is it method acting?” Mustardseed asked.
“This is a theater.” Bertie, annoyed by the inquisition, dropped him onto the stage. Several feet of slack cable landed atop the fairy in a slithering heap.
“Oh!” Peaseblossom said. “You’ve buried him alive!”
“I told you it was silly to use the wires when you can fly perfectly well without them,” Bertie said.
“But they’re fun to swing on!” Moth protested as the fairies shed their harnesses and went to investigate the tomb of their fallen comrade.
Indefatigable, Mustardseed emerged from the pile, rubbing his bum. “If it’s not for Nate, is it because of your abandonment issues?”
There was a very long silence before Bertie told her reflection, “The only reason I’m friends with any of you is because I outgrew the von Trapps, one annoying Austrian at a time.”
“You could have joined the Lost Boys,” Moth said.
“They did nothing but whiz on trees, and I’m not properly equipped for that.”
“So you’re stuck with us because of your innate inability to pee standing up?” Peaseblossom put her hands on her hips as she hovered nearby.
“That’s right.” Bertie used her brush to stir the dye.
“We can do lots of stuff besides pee standing up,” Moth said.
“Like sword fighting!” Cobweb slashed and parried with great enthusiasm.
“Call the pirates and the shipwreck scene!” Mustardseed flailed his tiny yellow boots in an improvised hornpipe.
“I’m not supposed to make scene changes and thus I’m appalled by the very suggestion,” Bertie said. “You’re a bad influence, Mustardseed.”
“The rules have never stopped you before.” Peaseblossom looked knowing. “You just don’t want Nate seeing you with your head all slimy.”
Bertie put on her best Lady of the Manor air. “He needn’t wait for an engraved invitation to pay a social call.”
“But he prefers you pin a note to the Call Board,” Peaseblossom reminded her.
The majority of the Players drifted in and out of existence according to the summonses pinned to the Call Board, but the more flamboyant, dashing, or mad the character, the more freedom they had to move about the Théâtre. The fairies dogged Bertie’s every step, whereas Nate was one for protocol.
Probably all that rot about following the captain’s orders.
Bertie’s entire head tingled as the ammonia burned her scalp. She tried not to scratch at it, because that way lay madness . . . madness and funky-colored fingertips. “It has nothing to do with Nate. I need to finish my hair before the Stage Manager gets back.”
“He should be thankful it’s only dye on your head and not paint all over the stage,” Peaseblossom said.
Bertie glanced at the walls of her room. The three connected scenic flats were part of the Théâtre Illuminata’s enormous collection of backdrops, stored in the flies overhead and in the backstage scenic dock when not in use. “I haven’t painted my set in years.”
Lights up on BERTIE, AGE 7. She is painting over a dingy cream wall with something labeled “Violet Essence” as the STAGE MANAGER glowers at her.
It’s my bedroom, and I’ll do what I want with it.
(To prove her point, she splashes magenta and silver over the violet and smears it around with her hands.)
(grabbing for BERTIE’S ear and missing)
You can answer to the Theater Manager for this mess!
(The THEATER MANAGER arrives with MR. TIBBS, the Scenic Manager.)
(turning to the THEATER MANAGER)
Why you ever decided she needed to sleep here, on the stage, is beyond my powers of reckoning!
She needed a bedroom, and this is the best we could do.
(His face turns three shades of crimson and steam hisses out of his ears like a teakettle.)
But this isn’t a bedroom! We can’t stop the performances for bedtime, which means she’s under-foot until the stage is cleaned! And look at this mess!
(chomping his cigar)
We do not change the colors of the flats. We touch them up, or faithfully reproduce them down to the last paint stroke and bit of gilt. But we do NOT change them!
Just because you don’t change them doesn’t mean I can’t.
Bertie, this place isn’t about change. It’s about eons of tradition.
(crossing her arms)
It’s my bedroom. I should be allowed to do what I like with my bedroom.
(studying BERTIE until she squirms a bit)
That’s true enough. But I wonder what will come next. One day, it’s your bedroom and the next—
Utter chaos and pandemonium!
What color is pandemonium? It sounds yellow.
Beatrice, this is a matter of utmost importance, so I want you to listen to me and answer very carefully.
You like living here, don’t you?
Do you want to remain at the Théâtre?
Of course I do! (stammering) I mean, it’s my home….
Then you need to understand that while we will tolerate a certain amount of….
(He pauses to search for the appropriate word.)
No, I think perhaps the word I was searching for was “creativity.” While we will tolerate, even encourage, your creativity, you must limit it to your personal space.
(frowning hard and trying to understand)
So I can paint my room?
Yes, you may. But you’re forbidden to change anything else. In that regard, you will have to learn to exercisesomething called “self-restraint.” Do you understand?
I think so. I mean, yes. Yes, sir. Now can I have paint the color of pandemonium, Mr. Tibbs?
(scattering cigar ash about the stage)
No, you may not.
(another long moment of contheatre-illuminatalation passes before he nods)
Gentlemen, let the young lady get on with her painting. Bertie, clean up after yourself.
(He begins to make his exit, pausing at the edge of the stage.)
Please do remember what I said about exercising self-restraint.
Bertie contheatre-illuminatalated her reflection. “Perhaps I could have shown more self-restraint.”
The girl in the mirror didn’t blink, so Bertie averted her gaze and looked instead around her room. Viewed from any of the seats in the house, it would create the proper illusion of a teenager’s abode. Mr. Hastings, the Properties Manager, permitted her to sign out bits and pieces to make it feel cozier, but most of her knickknacks and trinkets were glued or nailed down so they wouldn’t scatter about the stage when the scenery was changed. The audience would never know it, but there wasn’t anything in the dresser; all Bertie’s clothing was kept backstage in Wardrobe, laundered and pressed by Mrs. Edith. The bed, an elaborate four-poster, resided on a circular lift that disappeared below-stage.
And then there was The Book.
The Complete Works of the Stage.
Sitting atop a pedestal in the far corner of Stage Left and just in front of the proscenium arch, it was the only thing that remained constantly onstage. Resting there, it emitted a soft, golden radiance usually lost under the thousands of watts of power that poured from the floodlights.
No one dared touch it. Even Bertie, who dared a lot of things that the others never dreamed, did not touch The Book.
“You have dye on the end of your nose,” Peaseblossom said.
Bertie set down her brush and wiped her face with a handkerchief that came away smeared with Cobalt Flame. She peeked at herself in the mirror, confirming that quite a lot of her skin was now blue. Cobweb and Moth, who’d paused in the middle of attheatre-illuminatating to draw-and-quarter each other to look at Bertie, fell to the dusty stage floor, laughing themselves silly. Mustardseed landed on her shoulder and smeared his hands around in the dye.
“Stop that!” Bertie swept him off with a practiced flick of her finger.
He somersaulted backward, then rushed to swing his tiny fist at her nose. Cobweb and Moth tackled him, leaving miniature explosions of glitter twinkling in the air. Flying fists and booted feet kicked over the bowl of hair dye, and Cobalt Flame flowed across the stage floor to surround Bertie’s Mary Janes.
She made a mad grab for the fairies. “Come back here! You’re making a huge mess—”
“I’ll cut off his ears!” said Moth.
“I’ll slice off his nose!” added Cobweb.
“And we’ll cast the bits into the sea!” they howled together.
“Forsooth!” said Mustardseed. “You’ll never take me alive!”
Bertie tried to get in between them, but it was tricky not to step on someone. “Stop it!”
Mustardseed grabbed the wet, sloppy brush and hurled it at his attackers, missing them only to hit the side of Bertie’s head. Several wads of aluminum foil fell off, and dye-sticky strands of hair snaked over her shoulders. Bertie used a pithy curse common amongst the pirates, but Peaseblossom was the only one who noticed the air turning blue to match the spreading mess.
“Good thing you’re wearing so much black,” she said.
The boys rolled past them. Tufts of fairy hair, ripped out by the roots, drifted into the orchestra pit. Tiny scraps of clothing exited the brawling tumbleweed at sporadic intervals: a sleeve, a sock, a pointy-toed shoe.
“I’ll beat you for a living!”
“You and what army?”
All at once the fairies froze, like butterflies pinned to a piece of felt-covered cork. They were only ever utterly still for one reason: Someone had placed a notice on the Call Board.
“What’s it say?” Bertie asked.
The fairies shook free of the trance.
“All Players to the stage,” Peaseblossom said. “Ten o’clock.”
Bertie swore under her breath again. “Everyone to the stage, you say?” She waved her arm at the floor, which was covered in smear marks and miniature shoe prints. “The stage that’s currently decorated with a crazed ballroom dancing pattern? ‘Tarantella for Three Miscreants in Pandemonium Minor’ perhaps?”
“Maybe we should clean up?” Moth suggested, sounding sheepish.
“You think?” Bertie ducked into the wings. Backstage, it was all black paint and dim lights covered in sheets of red gel. “We need to get rid of this mess before the Stage Manager sees it.” She located his headset, lifted the mouthpiece to her lips, and whispered, “Cue scene change. The Little Mermaid, Act One, Scene One.”
The fairies cheered the blackout. In the pale echo of light, vague outlines moved through Bertie’s field of vision, but their details were lost to the dark. Her bedroom walls took flight in a soaring arc before disappearing into the rafters. The bed dropped below the stage while the armchair and dresser chased each other into the wings. Huge wooden waves slid in from Stage Left with the clank and wallop of mechanical water. Seaweed hit the stage with wet thumps, sand gathered in drifts, and saltwater misted the floor. Ground row lights painted the cyclorama in undulating shades of blue and green.
“Fabulous!” Moth shouted, and the words were bubbles. “Come on, losers!”
The others joined him, trailing froth and brine. Mustardseed climbed the pearl garland while Peaseblossom and Cobweb darted in and out of the coral reef in an elaborate game of tag. A chorus of starfish entered Stage Right and began to tap-dance, very softly, in the sand. Scrubbing the dye off herself and the floor with handfuls of kelp, Bertie watched the Sea Witch also make her entrance.
“Sad, isn’t it?” said someone just behind Bertie.
She turned to find Ophelia trailing flowers and chiffon through the saltwater-and-dye puddles. Like the fairies, she came and went as she pleased, walking the ragged edge of her sanity and drawn to the ocean by some unwritten instinct.
“What’s sad about it?” Little puffs of sand lifted and settled again as Bertie slogged from one dye splotch to the next.
“She loved once and lost.” Hair drifting over her shoulders in unseen eddies, Ophelia looked at the Sea Witch’s wavering image projected on the back wall. “You’d think she’d show more mercy.”
“What ever you say.” Done with the stage, Bertie still had to deal with the dye on her head. “What are you doing here?”
“I heard the water running.” Ophelia lifted her arms up and smiled into the ghostly, aquamarine lighting. “I thought I’d come and drown myself. I won’t be in the way, will I?”
“Just watch out for the starfish.” Psycho, Bertie mouthed to the fairies, who made looping finger gestures at their theatre-illuminatales behind Ophelia’s back.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing back there,” Ophelia said before she drifted off to do what she did best.
The fairies, taken aback by the cheerful admonishment, were caught unawares by the smoke machine. Lights tinted the artificial fog the same dark blue as Bertie’s hair, and the scene transitioned into Coming Storm, complete with rattling of the thunder sheet and flashes of brilliant lightning white. The massive prow of the Persephone soared out of the mist, safeguarded against evil by the gold coin. Nate had placed in the hull and the one of silver under the mast.
Jus’ in case, he’d said when Bertie teased.
Despite the protective charms on the boat, the Sea Witch attacked with curses and errant waves, just as she did in every performance.
“Man overboard!” Nate’s only line; he bellowed it with his usual gusto, the words underscored by the creak of the Persephone’s wooden planks and straining ropes. Bertie peered into the flies and caught sight of him leaning over the ship’s railing, tendrils of hair torn free from his braid. Her heart gave a queer little flutter, which she instantly dismissed as both ridiculous and embarrassing.
Nate pointed at her and mouthed, I’ll be right down. Don’t go anywhere.
Bertie remembered what a mess she must look and tried to figure out how much time she had to remedy it: One minute until the ship reached Stage Left, another two minutes to see to the rigging, and thirty seconds to disembark added up to hardly enough. With a muffled oath, she shoved her head into the bucket behind the wooden wave. Splash!
“That’s going to be a lovely shade of blue,” Peaseblossom said, pulling out the bits of foil.
“Shut up and help me get this stuff off!” Bertie scrubbed at her head with her eyes squeezed shut, wondering how much time she had left.
None, apparently. She came up streaming water; through the dripping cobalt, she caught a glimpse of clenched muscle under soiled linen and the glint of his earring before Nate wrapped her head in an enormous towel.
“Yer makin’ a terrible mess,” he observed.
Bertie flapped her arms, hardly able to hear him through the terry cloth cocoon. “Give me just a second to finish—”
“Best we get ye off th’ stage as soon as possible, lass.”
Bertie pulled the towel back so he would be sure to see her dismissive eye roll. “Don’t give me that ‘lass’ stuff. You’re not written that much older than I am.”
“Years scripted an’ years lived are two diff’rent things,” Nate said. Greasepaint, false sunshine, and fan-machine winds had weathered his face, and though his hair and eyes were dark, lighter threads of copper wove through the plait that snaked down the back of his neck.
Bertie caught herself gazing up at him like a mooncalf and turned away, twisting the towel into a lopsided turban.
“I’ll be fine.”
“All th’ same, th’ Stage Manager’s in a rare, odd mood.” Nate spat into the corner as a ward against evil. “Ye need t’ mind yer step.”
“If the spitting thing ever works, let me know. I’ll be sure to spit on the Stage Manager every chance I get.” Bertie thought about how Nate always stepped aboard his ship right foot first and would no sooner utter the word “drowned” than he would “Macbeth”; it was “The Scottish Play” or nothing at all. “You’re such a practical and mercenary soul, but that superstitious streak of yours runs bone deep.”
“I know ye don’ take it seriously, but ye’ve no need t’ tease,” Nate said.
“Don’t I?” Bertie pursed her lips.
“Bertie . . .” he warned.
“I feel like a little whistle,” she said, retreating with her mouth still puckered up. “Just a small one.”
Nate came after her. “No whistlin’ onstage, or are ye forgettin’ yesterday?”
He backed her against the heavy, velvet curtains and clapped a rope-scarred hand across her mouth just as she sucked in a loud breath. For a long moment, they looked at each other, and Bertie was acutely aware of the taste of his fingers: salt and sardines (as befitted a pirate) and chocolate icing (which didn’t seem as appropriate).
A sudden, trumpeted fanfare sent them leaping apart, the blast of noise preceding the messenger from Act Four of Richard the Third. He entered Stage Right, unrolled a parchment scroll, and cleared his throat. In a strong, sonorous voice, honed to cut through the bedlam at court or merely backstage, he proclaimed, “And now, the bane of your existence, the killer of all joys, the Stage Manager—”
He was interrupted when the murderers from the same production leapt from the flies and stabbed him repeatedly with big rubber knives. The messenger pulled crimson scarves from holes in his tunic and did a lot of unnecessary groaning before his assassins dragged him offstage by the ankles.
“What was that all about?” Nate demanded.
“Early detection system,” Bertie said. “I get advance warning that the Stage Manager is coming, and the messenger gets extra stage time.”
“Clever,” said Nate as the scene shifted around them.
“I thought so.” Bertie bit her lip, watching the waves recede backstage, the watery lighting special click off, and the cyclorama fade from blue to white. The Sea Witch gathered her gauzy wraps and disappeared into the dim. Ophelia, drowned to her satisfaction, drifted out with the tide. The seaweed and pearls skittered offstage, and the Stage Manager arrived with a broom and a glare.
“YOU!” he exclaimed, striding onstage like a bantam rooster.
Bertie put on her most innocent expression. “Yes?”
“YOU!” he bellowed, as though that was the only word not sticking in his throat.
Bertie struggled not to laugh at the image of him squawking at the sunrise with his imaginary feathered crest ruffled up. “What did I do?”
“Who authorized that scene change? Who gave you permission to touch my headset? Why is it blue?”
He wagged it at her until dye dripped off the earpiece. When Bertie started to answer, the Stage Manager yelled, “Never mind! Just go! The stage is for Players only! We’re making an announcement!”
“I think you’ve used up all your exclamation points for today,” Bertie said. “What’s the announcement about?”
The Stage Manager smiled, a fearsome thing indeed. He looked mightily pleased about something, which didn’t bode well. “Ah, yes, the announcement.”
“You might as well tell me what’s going on.” Bertie glared at him. “I’ll know soon enough.”
“Ah, but you have an important appointment with the Theater Manager, and you shouldn’t be late.” He nodded to Nate. “See her to the stage door, please.”
Nate took her by the arm. “You’ve been summoned to the Office again?”
“Yes, but I want to know what’s going on!” Bertie dragged her feet. However, Nate could heave a wooden chest of pirate treasure without thinking twice, and she weighed significantly less than gold.
“I’ll find ye afterward an’ tell ye everythin’, I promise,” he said.
The fairies ducked into the hall with her just before Nate slammed the door shut.
Meet the Author
Lisa Mantchev is the author of the Theatre Illuminata series, including Perchance to Dream and Eyes Like Stars. She grew up in the small Northern California town of Ukiah. She wrote her first play in the fourth grade, and has been involved in theater ever since. She received two scholarships to study drama at the University of California, Irvine. She won the Chancellor's Award For Undergraduate Research in Drama her senior year while studying in the Campuswide Honors Program. After graduation, she taught English at the Lycée Internationale de Los Angeles and created their Drama After School Program. In between report cards and drafting scripts for Winter and Spring productions, she wrote fiction. Her first professional short fiction sale was in 2002, and her debut trilogy sold in 2007. Mantchev makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state with her husband Angel, her daughter Amélie and four hairy miscreant dogs. When not scribbling, she can be found on the beach, up a tree, making jam or repairing things with her trusty glue gun.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Prepare to enter the world of the Théâtre Illuminata, where every play that has ever been written comes to life. Our heroine, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, has spent nearly all of her life living amongst the props, players and stage hands; however, she is not a player nor is she on the stage crew. Left on the theater's doorstep when she was very young, Bertie has come to call the theater her home and has made friends with many of the cast members. Among these friends are Ariel, the sexy air spirit from <i>The Tempest</i>, Nate, her swashbuckling pirate crush from <i>The Little Mermaid</i>, and her co-conspirators... the four faeries from <i>A Midsummer Night's Dream</i> - Moth, Peaseblossom, Cobweb and Mustardseed. A vivacious and somewhat troublesome teenager, Bertie can usually be found dying her hair outrageous colors, and causing no small amount of chaos (much to the dismay of the temperamental Stage Manager). However, Bertie's luck finally runs out and she discovers that she is being sent away from the theater - back into the real world where they say she belongs. In order to stay, she strikes a bargain with the Theater Manager. If she can prove herself as a good playwright and earn her place in the theater, she will be able to remain. Bertie eagerly accepts the challenge with her mind set on creating a new adaptation of <i>Hamlet</i>. The theater is nothing if not magical and its magic rests in the pages of The Book. As you can imagine, this is no ordinary book; it contains every play that has ever been written, and not only keeps the theater in working order but also binds the players to the stage. As such, the players cannot leave the theater. This is where things start to go wrong. While Bertie tries to get her new production together, Ariel hatches a plan to free himself from the slavery of the theater. He manages to get a hold of The Book and remove many of the pages. Suddenly, the other players begin to vanish and the theater begins to disintegrate before their eyes. To make matters worse, Sedna, the Sea Witch from <i>The Little Mermaid</i>, appears, kidnaps Nate and takes him back to her under-the-sea realm. I won't tell you how it ends but it definitely has a great cliff-hanger. I loved this novel. It's creative, artistic, magical and one of the most original stories that I have read in a very long time. Kudos to you Ms. Mantchev; your writing is phenomenal! In a time when the market is saturated with novels about vampires, werewolves and other recycled dark fantasy elements, <i>Eyes Like Stars</i> is a breath of fresh air. Indeed, it truly reads like a warm summer day in comparison to the drab darkness of most of the other novels I have read lately. Extra bonus: the cover art is gorgeous! I am ashamed to admit that I sometimes judge the book by the cover. The cover art is beyond amazing. It grabbed my eye from across the room and I knew I had to add it to my stack. I'm so glad I did! In short, if you are looking for a fresh plot, wonderful characters, a little romance and a whole lot of magic, read this book!
Shakespeare's Ophelia drowns herself nightly, the lost boys fly without strings attached, while Ariel leaves women sighing even as he walks past. This strange blend of classical characters and their quirks can only happen in one place: The Theatre Illuminata. The Theatre Illuminata houses every actor for every play ever written. However, they aren't simply actors, but the actual characters, born to play a specific role. Bertie, mischievous and tenacious, is the only person who plays no part on the stage. Beatrice (Bertie) Shakespeare Smith paints her nails black, dyes her hair blue, smokes clove cigarettes and according to Peasebottom, one of Bertie's best friends and Shakespeare's playful fairies, does these things to impress Nate, her would-be pirate boyfriend. Even though she plays no part in the stage, she still lives on it: her bedroom literally sits on the stage of The Theatre Illuminata, and disappears with every scene change. Although she lives in this fantastical world of magic and curtain calls, she certainly wasn't born to it. All she's been told about her past is that she was abandoned on the steps of the theatre and has no idea who her parents could be. Because she plays no active role at the theatre, Bertie soon find herself desperately searching for a reason to stay at the Theatre Illuminata. Lisa Mantchev scripts this quirky yet thoughtful novel with the heart of an actor and the mind of a novelist: her immanent love of theatre seeps into every page, while readers are drawn into her cleverly crafted story, ensnaring them with each sentence. Mantchev constructs a straightforward plot in which a spunky girl turns a theatre upside down to find her calling in life, falls for a gentlemanly pirate all while avoiding the trouble caused by her best friends, the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. As this unique group of characters helps Bertie find a permanent, useful place in the theatre, Bertie seeks her past, encounters a murderous sea witch, and finds out what happens when someone drinks from the "Drink Me" bottle on the Alice in Wonderland set. This sort of plot makes for an odd coupling, since the novel is intertwined with masterful classic literary tributes and the common plot of a teen romance novel. While readers will inevitably find the supporting cast endearing, they may also find that Bertie and her impending love triangle are nothing more than a juvenile fantasy. Yet the two aspects mingle well, producing an enjoyable read which rewards those who pay attention in English class. Yet the brilliance of this novel lies in a precarious position. Mantchev clearly knows her Shakespeare as well as many other classic plays and novels. She backs her novel with characters from many of Shakespeare's plays and never misses a chance to reference them. All those who have read Macbeth will give a whole hearted chuckle when Macbeth, at a breakfast buffet, picks up a cruller and mutters, "Is this a doughnut I see before me?" but is cut off from any impending doughnut speech when he sees raspberry jelly covering everything and begins to shriek. Sadly, the audience may miss the irony of this completely if they are not familiar with Shakespeare. After all, this light hearted read is presented to young adults, who don't necessarily read Shakespeare in their spare time. However, Eyes Like Stars has such ingenious allusions to the classics and word play that even those well out of their adolescent years will appreciate it.
What can I say about this one to do it justice? I loved it. Well, more to the point I LOVED it. It's a fun fantasy novel--a romance--that is satisfying and playful and oh-so-right. Our heroine, Beatrice, has grown up in the theatre. But not just any theatre, no, the only home she has ever known is home to every stage character ever written--all the plays ever penned. Her best friends are fairies--perhaps you've read about them before, for they are found in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Her love interest? The man of her dreams? A minor character from A Little Mermaid. Her love-to-hate, hate-to-love enemy? Ariel from The Tempest. When we first meet Beatrice, she's in trouble. The Theatre Manager has decided that it is time for Beatrice to go. His excuse? She's not contributing to the theatre. She--and others along side her--plead with him; he grants her a few more days to prove that she has what it takes, that she belongs there. Her idea? To be a director! Though their productions generally never require a director--after all the originals know their lines backwards and forwards and then some--but if she were to change it up, change it around...then...maybe just maybe she'd find her place. Thus she seeks to recreate Hamlet...to give it an ancient Egyptian setting. But life is never this easy, right? You know there are bound to be conflicts! I am not going to say much more. I don't want to spoil it. But it is oh-so-magical. It is fun and playful. It is giddy-making.
It is a masterpiece. It is now one of my favorite books. I recommend it to anyone.
I started a book club at my school and this was the second book I selected for all of us to read. I have not read this complete series but of what I have read so far (this first book) it was very good. This was a very intresting book. At first, this book seemed a little childish, but as I read on it got better. The author's use of vocabulary I found was a little strange at times, and yet at others it brought me more intrigued to the story. I love theatre and I love reading, so this was an interesting book to me. Although, I must say it is one of those books that you just can't seem to put down. I also liked the "cast list" ;) in this book the characters were very unique, with detailed personalities. I would recommend this book to any readers who have at least a small amount of prior knowledge of the theatre, and enjoy reading. One last thing I also enjoyed about this book was it had modern twists of old theatre characters and tales. ~Brava!!! :)
Eyes Like Stars was a book I'd been looking at for awhile, but hadn't really gotten the nerve to buy. But, when I did, it not only fulfilled my expectations, it surpassed them! Bertie has lived in the Theatre Illuminata for as long as she can remember. Before arriving, she has no memory of anything, except what she's tried to figure out by writing out her own story in a play. One day, horrible news arrives. The Theater Manager is forcing her to leave the only home she has. Devastated, she tries to make him reconsider, and he does. The Theater Manager gives her only a few days to prove herself invaluable to Theatre Illuminata. Determined to do so, she sets out trying to restage a play. However, it is not as easy as it looks, especially with the two men trying to win her over. Nate, a dashing pirate, tries to protect Bertie from Ariel, a wind spirit who also seems to have a thing for the girl. The action and magic in this book, paired with the mystery of Bertie's past, the romance, and four mischievous fairies make this a wonderful read. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a good fantasy tale.
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith lives in a theater. She's not an actress, but she knows every part. The Theatre Illuminata is the only home Bertie has ever know. But one mishap too many has the Theater Director determined to send Bertie on her way -unless she can prove that she is a valuable part of the Theater. Now, Bertie must fight for her home while unlocking the secrets of her past... Ok, I'll try to control my gushing and fan-girliness over this book, but EYES LIKE STARS is amazing!!! This has to be one of the most creative, imaginative, beautiful novels I have read. I loved the setting of the Theatre Illuminata and the idea that all the players of every play lived in the theater and were able to be called upon whenever they are needed (and sometimes when they're not needed!). Lisa Mantchev has managed to capture the magic of the theater in this stunningly written novel. I honestly can't believe this is her debut. All the characters are so richly drawn and detailed and I could hear various voices for everyone as I was reading. Everything was so vividly written, I could actually see the see the story unfolding as a play in front of me. The fairies offer fun comic relief, whereas the tension between Ariel and Bertie provides plenty of drama. The dialog is witty and snappy and lots of fun. This was a book that I literally had to tear myself away from and force myself to go to work and sleep - I never wanted to stop reading. Shakespeare does play heavily into the novel, but you don't need to be a Shakespearean scholar to follow along and recognize the characters. Also, Lisa Mantchev does an excellent job filling the reader in on the important details of each part, without it losing the flow of the story. There are several plays and characters that make appearances throughout and discovering each one is part of the joy of reading this novel. As someone who has been heavily involved in theater, I loved the subtle details about theater life that only theater people really and truly understand - the arguments over props vs. sets, the actor's egos. But even if you've never had any experience in a theater, there is sure to be something you'll love in EYES LIKE STARS. I highly recommend this to all readers, even readers who typically shy away from fantasy. This didn't feel like a typical fantasy to me, so I'm sure it will attract even those who don't usually read that genre. I'm excited to see this will be a trilogy - I'm looking forward to reading more from this fabulous debut author!
I really like this book. I think my favorite character is Ariel from the Tempest. I also like Moh Cobwed and the other Fairies. I highly recomend his book if you like romance and the stage or acting. Its not really thick romance but has a little.
This is a really good book kinda hard for me to unstand but it was good reading the second book right now
The love interests in this story are a genre known as fey lovers. Like fey books full of harsh characters made to seem as if they think of the main character as an aquisition rather than a person and learn otherwise throughout the book? Or in this case the entire series... you may like this book. While one of the love interests is "technically" human he still has a very fey attitude when it comes to the main character Bertie. Like books where there is a unique story telling prop for at least some of the time? If you don't this book may irk you. As it is partially told through play scripts, giving you a feel of reading through shakespeare plays. Like twisted worlds? Because this book definitely gives you that inception/contrast what is real and what is false feel throughout not just the book but the whole series that intentionally leaves many things unexplained and up to the reader to digest and keeps you from finding your balance all the time. I personally really enjoyed this book for its fey qualities and the unearthly twistedness of it all, but I know that many people will not enjoy a book if everything is not explained and made sense of. But if you enjoy what I like to call dream logic fantasy thi is perfect for you.
I participated in theater throughout high school, and I absolutely loved it. I worked backstage (I can't sing or act), and I fell in love with the people and the absolute chaos that is the theater. That's probably part of the reason why I loved Mantchev's Eyes Like Stars so much. It reminded me of how it felt to be in the theater, surrounded by people who become a second family. Bertie's life is chaotic to say the least. She's grown up with constant scene changes, without the knowledge of how she came to live in the theater, and with the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream as her best friends. Needless to say, she gets into a lot of trouble. The characters in the book were great. Bertie was a strong, confident, sometimes stubborn lead. She never took no for an answer, and even during absolute chaos was able to improvise. The supporting cast was what was most spectacular to me. Many of the characters were from various different plays, and none of them seemed out of character. I imagined that's just how they would act if they were living in the real world (especially the fairies). I think I should also mention Ariel, from The Tempest, who ended up being my favorite character from the book. I was intrigued by his character, then I hated him, I pitied him, and I loved him. I ended up understanding his motivation to bring down the theater, and also saw him grow as a character. Fans of the theater will enjoy seeing their favorite characters outside of their respective plays, while other readers might be inspired to go read those plays to find out more. I loved this book, and can't wait to read the sequel.
I have to say, I was disappointed. Immeasurably. Maybe I got my hopes up too high (as many people have mentioned, the cover is just gorgeous, and really lures you in). I thought I would really enjoy this book, after reading so many rave reviews, but alas. I suppose I should just air my grievances already. Warning: there may be spoilers ahead. It comes down to the characters. The secondary characters I just adored, but all the main ones irritated me. Bertie is not that much younger than I am, and while I appreciate she grew up in a dramatic environment, she's very inconsistent. She says one thing, does another, and changes her mind five times before coming to a final decision. As a rule, I believe love triangles are one of the most obnoxious tropes out there, but occasionally an author does them well. Not in this book. Her loves are Ariel and Nate, and they treat her abysmally. For some reason they seem to view her less as a human being and more of an object to be won. Hell, her first kisses with both of them made me extremely uncomfortable, as they were unwanted and reeked of (in my opinion) sexual assault. (She drinks the DRINK ME bottle from Alice in Wonderland, which basically acts as a roofie. Ariel forces her to dance with him and kisses her, though she can't even remember her kiss. It's only when she acts it out later with Nate that she remembers, at which point Nate is basically forcing himself on her. I'm not being dramatic, Bertie says "No!" and tries to push him off. I'm sorry, was I supposed to see this as romantic? Because it's not.) Then Bertie accidentally gets "married" to both of them in Perchance to Dream, the sequel. With Nate, she didn't know what she was doing. With Ariel, she tried to make him stop but he says something to the effect of "You're as much mine as you are his." Like he's somehow earned the right to possess her? Are you serious right now? Why isn't there anyone else upset about this? If the boys actually treated her, you know, like a being capable of making her own decisions and choices instead of disrespecting her and disregarding her desires I might not be so harsh. But during all the "romantic" interactions it feels like Bertie is constantly trying to push them away (although she is admittedly conflicted about her own desires, if someone respects you, they will give you time to figure things out, not push you harder). In my opinion, Bertie is given next to no bodily autonomy within the text and it's extremely frustrating to me. It's a trend I don't like in teen literature, especially literature aimed at teen girls. It definitely promotes unhealthy messages about dating and relationships (the way we are supposed to see Nate/Ariel as potential romantic interests despite how the treat Bertie frightens me, especially when statistics suggest 1 in 5 teen girls are going to be abused by their dating partners). At one point Nate, during a sword fight with Ariel, (which was influenced by Sedna's magic/their hatred for each other), ends up carelessly shoving Bertie away and she slams against the wall. She's bleeding and they don't even notice or care. Look, I may be making mountains out of molehills, so you can decide for yourself. I've said my piece. I wanted to give it at least two/three stars for the gorgeous descriptions and original ideas, but I just can't. Like others have said, the cover is glorious, but I found the content within to be lacking. Oh well. Better luck next time.
I loved this series of books!
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, a likable 17-year-old, must find a way to make herself invaluable to the Théâtre Illuminata or she will be forced to leave the only home she has ever known. How she arrived at the theater as a baby is somewhat of a mystery, and through the years she has been allowed to run free and cause mayhem of one kind or another. Beatrice proposes to re-stage Hamlet set in ancient Egypt and promises it will be the sell-out performance that will restore the Théâtre to its former glory. If that were all, the story line would be fairly straightforward. However, the Théâtre Illuminata is no ordinary theater. Characters from the world's major plays live inside, summoned forth by pinning a note on the Call Board. They are bound to the physical confines of the theater by the pages in The Complete Works of the Stage, an enchanted book. Scene changes happen magically by command, though human Properties and Scenic Managers argue over which pieces belong to whom. Bertie has only ever known the Théâtre; it's been her playroom, her connection to friends, and her home since infantry. Her room is a set, she pulls all her clothes from wardrobe, and she uses props and stage makeup whenever she likes, but things are beginning to change. Her actions are no longer being over looked and, since she's not a true "character" but a orphan given to the Théâtre, she's (now 17) being treated as someone who has to take full responsibility of her life. Thus, to prove her step into adult hood and that she can truly be apart of "home" - she decides to direct a play. Not just any play, a new version of Hamlet. This story really sparkled! Honestly, I got the book from the library solely for the cover - which I found amazing. She rocks the blue hair! Yet, the story is so unique and enjoyable that it is hard NOT to dig right in. I loved Bertie's various personalities (vulnerability, curiosity, being sarcastic, etc.) and I believe her character really made her different from most female leads. Plus, the chemistry she develops with Nate, a pirate from THE LITTLE MERMAID, and Ariel, an air spirit from THE TEMPEST kept me coming back for me. It's truly an enchanting tale and I cannot wait for Perchance to Dream. Likes: Bertie's stubborn interactions with the Théâtre manager are hilarious! Great humor throughout. Dislikes: I know the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream where there to provide comic relief, but they were almost TOO annoying at times.
cant wait to read the next one what will she do??
If you buy only ONE book for the next year, it must be this one. I was captivated by the story after only the first page by the intricately weaved plot line that leaves you on the edge of your seat. The main plot line is that a girl named Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (affectionately known as Bertie) lives in thr Theater Illuminata, where all characters that have ever been written into a play reside. However, she isn't a player herself, and a conflict leaves her needing to find a way to prove herself so she can keep everything she has ever known. She has the help of her friends at the theater, and ultimately she ends up finding a way to make her own story rather than just watching everyone else's. Of course, there is romance involved, and the romance left me stunned; everything about Bertie's feelings and actions were descrbed so beautifully that I cried multiple times while reading and it left me longing for her to find true happiness almost in a way that someone wishes for a friend. Though the romance begins in the first book, it really takes off in the second.I have never felt so inspired and consumed by a book since I began reading. It is safe to say that this is the best book I have read in a LONG time and I would urge anyone with a love of decriptive writing to read it. Not all of the plot is explicitly told to the reader, sometimes things need to be figured out on their own, which makes the story all the better of a read.If you read this book you will not regret it.