Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 336 
Rating: 4/5

17 year-old Kelley Winslow doesn't believe in Faeries. Not unless they’re the kind that you find in a theater, spouting Shakespeare—the kind that Kelley so desperately wishes she could be: on stage, under lights, with a pair of sparkly wings strapped to her shoulders. But as the understudy in a two-bit, hopelessly off-off-Broadway production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wishing is probably the closest she’s going to get to becoming a Faerie Queen. At least, that’s what she thinks... In this fun, urban fantasy, Kelley's off-stage life suddenly becomes as complicated as one of Shakespeare’s plot twists when a nighttime trip to Central Park holds more than meets the mortal eye.

Having read Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely novels I was looking for something in the same vein, and was not disappointed by Wondrous Strange. Kelley Winslow is a young actress in New York working on a production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the park. While I thought some of the Shakespeare allusions came across as a little heavy-handed, readers who aren't as familiar with the Bard's works will probably appreciate a lot of the exposition.  Rescuing what she believes to be a drowning horse (actually, a kelpie) Kelley is  dismayed when the horse reappears in the bathtub of her upper-story apartment. This whole exchange is played with humor, as Kelley frets over what she will feed it (turns out the kelpie has a taste for Lucky Charms cereal) or how she will clean up after it (luckily, the supernatural horse doesn't leave any messes behind.)

Angry, lonely Sonny is a changeling - a human child raised by faeries and sworn to service as a protector of them. Upon meeting Kelley in the Central Park one night, he quickly begins to suspect that she could be Faerie King Auberon's long-lost daughter.  A strained romance begins between the two, as Sonny struggles to keep the faery world and his duties within it a secret from Kelley for as long as he can.

One of the surprises in the book is one of Kelley's fellow actors, Bob, turns out to be the real Puck, a wisecracking, sticky-fingered guy, who's secretly been keeping an eye on Kelley, and manipulating things behind-the-scenes for years.

The climax of the book takes place on actual midsummer night, as the portal between human and faery worlds threatens to open, and hell hounds chase through Central Park.  Sonny and his fellow members of the Janus Guard are prepared to do battle to keep the rest of Manhattan safe, but ultimately, it is Kelley's faery heritage which saves the day.

This novel's blend of Celtic mythology, Shakespeare and romance will more than satisfy fans of urban paranormal fantasy. There is a sequel, Darklight, released earlier this year, which is sitting on my "To Be Read" pile.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great, but kinda reminds me of The Iron Fey series.