I've decided to use the book names as post titles, it's just easier to manage. So, hooray for internal inconsistencies.
The Theatre Illuminata is home to The Book, a magical collection of all the plays ever. The players who live there are the characters from these plays. The players are bound to the Theatre and the Theatre itself reacts to the commands of the Managers (and Bertie). Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (aka Bertie) is a young lady who lives in the Theatre. She isn’t an actor and she isn’t staff so she doesn’t really fit in anywhere. She was left at the Theatre as a young child and doesn’t know where she came from or who her parents are. Her closest friends are the 4 sprites from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Nate, a pirate from The Little Mermaid (Potential Romance Alert!). Also, Ariel from The Tempest used to be her friend and then shit got weird (oh look! another Potential Romance Alert!). To make a place for herself, Bertie decides to restage Hamlet. As she works on the play, she begins to discover some things about herself, the place she’s made her home, and the people she’s made her family.
So that synopsis made this sound a little boring, but it was the exact opposite. Lisa Mantchev’s writing is just a little dark and the dialogue is funny and the secondary characters are more than just cardboard props (whoops! Pun Alert!). Scenes from Bertie’s past are written in traditional play format and add to the play-within-a-play (within-another-play) feeling of the story. And the story-behind-the-story is both really clever and a little sad. A magical theater sounds awesome, but imagine playing Ophelia forever, drowning yourself endlessly and then imagine just how much that would suck (it would suck A LOT). The ending here was a little abrupt (goddamn cliffhangers) and didn’t end up quite where I wanted it, but there are at least 2 more books in the series and I’ve already nabbed the next one(I finished this last week). This book has all of the things that make YA Fantasy so awesome: a little magic, a little romance, a little mystery, and really good friends. All in all, you should read the hell out of this book.