Title: So Silver BrightAuthor: Lisa Mantchev
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: September 13, 2011
Pages: 368 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: Provided for review by the publisher (thank you, Ksenia!)
All Beatrice Shakespeare Smith has ever wanted is a true family of her own. And she's close to reuniting her parents when her father disappears. Now, Bertie must deal with a vengeful sea goddess and a mysterious queen as she tries to keep her family--and the Theatre Illuminata--from crumbling. To complicate it all, Bertie is torn between her two loves, Ariel and Nate.
Lisa Mantchev's So Silver Bright brings Bertie's story to a stunning conclusion that fans of Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream won't want to miss.
Nate is free from Sedna's clutches, but Beatrice Shakespeare Smith's problems are far from over. She still needs to fulfill Ophelia's promise, but that's kind of hard when getting the Scrimshander to the Theatre Illuminata isn't as easy as it seems. Sedna still lives and pursues Bertie with all her strength, wanting to see the young wordsmith dead. And how is she supposed to make a decision between the two men she loves equally? The journey to the place Bertie calls home is fraught with danger, fire dancers, brigands, and more mischief, and a happy ending seems close at hand--but could it turn out to be out of Bertie's reach? Not all plays end with, "and they lived happily ever after."
This review feels so stiff to me and I wish I could liven it up a little, but every time I tried to, it devolved into something like this: "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE SOOOO GOOOOOOD LIKE OMG HAPPPPYYYYYY BUT SAAAAAAAAAAAD!" So yeah, stiff review it is. As much as I want to unleash the inner fangirl and let her roam free, I've got to try to be intelligent.
The character growth Bertie has gone through during the series is impressive. If I were to read the first two chapters of Eyes Like Stars again and then reread the last two of So Silver Bright, it would seem like they're two different people and not the same young woman. Pretty sure she stole the title of "favorite character" from Ophelia and the fairies and now wears it like a crown. I've never liked Ariel because of some of the things he has done--to pull an instance from this very book, he humiliates her in front of the Queen and a large crowd of nobles--but he was admittedly sympathetic.
Bertie's adventures with her troupe were as fun to read about as ever and the book was just as good at making me laugh and smile as its predecessors (mostly due to the fairies), but the pacing wasn't the best. Until the last seventy pages or so, it was pretty slow going and I just floated with it. Small, forgettable plot points from previous books become incredibly important the best way they can, obvious plot points are confirmed, and it looks like the book made a last-minute trip to Plot Supermarket, the plot point superstore, to pick up another plot point or five. In the end, it all ties together pretty neatly and the sense of closure is complete yet open-ended, giving me plenty of room to imagine where the characters go from there.
The prose was often beautiful and made me wish I could write like that, but there were more than a few scenes where I couldn't figure out what was supposed to be going on. One scene was so bad about it that I had to reread it three times just to figure out what happened and that it made sense. Varvara, a fire dancer coincidentally introduced during that unclear scene, could have made for such a good character with her backstory, but she was only used as a plot device to help Bertie get around obstacles or move the plot along. I hate seeing good characters go to waste like that.
Since 2008, I've read about one hundred books per year and I'm on track to do it again No more than five of those books make me cry. So Silver Bright is one of those books for 2011. I didn't even like one character, but their fate had me bawling like a little baby, and a scene later in the book involving Sedna made me tear up too. Two-thirds of the way through, I thought this would be a solid three-star, but everything that came after that point was good enough to make me kick it up a notch. For all its flaws, So Silver Bright was a good book and a great conclusion to the Theatre Illuminata trilogy.
What am I reading next?: The Giver by Lois Lowry/All You Desire by Kirsten Miller