Sunday, September 4, 2011

Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev

Title: Perchance to Dream
Author: Lisa Mantchev
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Pages: 333 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Bought it.

Growing up in the enchanted Theatre Illuminata, Beatrice Shakespeare Smith learned everything about every play ever written. She knew the Players and their parts, but she didn't know that she, too, had magic. Now, she is the Mistress of Revels, the Teller of Tales, and is determined to follow her stars. She is ready for the outside world.


But the outside world soon proves more topsy-turvy than any stage production. Bertie can make things happen by writing them, but outside the protective walls of the Theatre, nothing goes as planned. And her magic cannot help her make a decision between--

NATE: Her suave and swashbuckling pirate, now in mortal peril.

ARIEL: A brooding, yet seductive, air spirit whose true motives remain unclear.

When Nate is kidnapped and taken prisoner by the Sea Goddess, only Bertie can free him. Bertie's dreams are haunted by Nate, whose love for Bertie is keeping him alive, but in the daytime, it's Ariel who is tantalizingly close, and the one she is falling for. Who does Bertie love the most? And will her magic be powerful enough to save her once she enters the Sea Goddess's lair?

Once again, LISA MANTCHEV has spun a tale like no other--full of romance, magic, adventure, and fairies, too--that readers won't want to put down, even after the curtain has closed.


Bertie's play at the Theatre Illuminata got a standing ovation just like she wanted, but she sets out with Ariel and her four fairy friend Mustardseed, Cobweb, Moth, and Peaseblossom so she can rescue Nate, the pirate Player she cares so much for, from Sedna's clutches. Bertie's gift to control words and make what she writes come to life isn't an easy gift and the outside world is no walk in the park. While Nate's soul haunts her dreams, Ariel is close by during the day and Bertie is torn between the two men in her life. As she approaches the lair of the Sea Goddess, Bertie's love and her magic may not be enough to save her or her friends.

Bertie and her friends don't have it easy this time around; like any teenager and especially one with powers she's just starting to figure out, Bertie makes a lot of mistakes and learns from them. Early in the book, she hardly knows how to use her word-magic without summoning something that could kill her, but experience teaches her how to do it right. Not everyone has perfect control the first time they use their powers; some of them have to work at it. My favorite character Ophelia may not have much of a presence in the book, but Bertie and the fairies make up for it with their growth and their actions as comedic sidekicks, respectively.

Through Shakespeare's fairies and the omniscient point of view, Perchance to Dream retains much of the humor is predecessor had even when the stakes are higher and the tone slightly (just slightly) darker. While I prefer the setting of the Theatre Illuminata, Mantchev did a great job of putting Bertie and her friends in the outside world to meet a wider variety of characters than just who is in a play.

I'm sure I'm supposed to like one love interest or another at this point because a major part of the books is the love triangle (I normally abhor books with a heavy focus on a love triangle, but I am occasionally forgiving if I like everything else enough), but I don't like Ariel or Nate very much. They both trick her into doing the same thing through different methods and that annoyed me so badly. Last time I checked, that's not how you make someone you love do that; you get them to fall in love with you too and it's done after a mutual, informed decision. By the end of the book, I was hoping an army of squirrels would come along to steal their nuts. (I apologize for that pun. I can't help it sometimes. Runs in the family.)

From the time Bertie steps through the portal to the time she arrives in Sedna's throne room, I was lost, especially the first time I read it. During my second read of the book, my feeling of not knowing what the heck was going on and of everything it could be, why is this stuff the trial someone has to pass to get to Sedna's lair was only slightly eased. Even by Theatre Illuminata standards, which I set very high due to the nature of the books, it was weird.

I've got three theories as to how it's going to end with Bertie, Nate, and Ariel. 1) Bertie rejects them both. I feel this would be best for her, but I know it won't happen. 2) Polyamory because if she loves them both equally and can't choose, maybe she won't have to. I wouldn't mind this because we hardly ever see something so different in YA, but I doubt it will happen. I'd put its chances at five percent. 3) One love interest dies, automatically pairing Bertie with the one that didn't die. This is what's most likely and I don't care much for endings like that. I like the heroine to make the choice, not fate or death or what have you.

Maybe one of my theories is right or maybe they're all wrong, but I'm eagerly awaiting So Silver Bright, the final book in the trilogy, to find out how Bertie grows from here and how it all turns out.

3 stars!

What am I reading next?: So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev