28 May 2011

REVIEW: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

by Elizabeth Hand
Publisher: PS Publishing
13 May 2010
124 Pages

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other's first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school's production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents and futures, and their future together. This masterful short novel, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is magic on paper.

R E V I E W :  
Illyria takes place in the 1970s Yonkers. It has a fantasy element to it with mentions of Fey and an enchanted, miniature theatre. 

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins and in love, experiencing the pleasures of the skin. Their close knit family call them the kissing cousins and as the youngest siblings, Madeleine and Rogan suffer from the teasing and sometimes, beatings from the other children. But as the children of twin boys, Madeleine and Rogan are considered practically half-siblings and their behaviour is much disapproved of. 

The family has a legacy of theater but their reactions to it are a mix of disdain and fear so they aren't really exposed to it and any artist talent is not encouraged and seems to die off from disuse. Through the cousins' aunt, Aunt Kate (the black sheep of the family), the two experience the wonders of the theater and fall in love with it to the extent that they decide to audition for the school play.
Near the middle of the book, the differences between the two are more pronounced. Rogan starts to have a life without Madeleine and owns the stage with his voice and performance while Madeleine is one of those forgettable actresses. Even though the two begin to drift apart, the love they had will not be easily forgotten by the two.

Like Madeleine is a forgettable actress, I think this is a forgettable book. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't exactly good either. Reading it was kind of surreal and when I finished reading, I felt like I was waking up from a dream, not necessarily in the good way.

This is a haunting tale and the relationship between the Madeleine and Rogan is the passion of two young teenagers. Elizabeth Hand does a great job describing the surroundings and Madeleine's voice is intense. I feel as though more artistic and open minded thinkers will be more intrigued and understand, and appreciate, this story better.     


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