eyes like stars book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Imagine a world full of possibilities, where you can play games of make-believe with the Lost Boys from Peter Pan or learn how to use a cutlass from a dashing pirate from The Little Mermaid. Where in just a few seconds you can be transported from Jack the Ripper’s London to the vast ocean ruled by the terrifying Sea Goddess Sedna. For Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (Bertie, as she is called by the Players), this is her entire world.

Bertie lives in the Theatre Illuminata, which also happens to be the home of every cast member of every play ever written. For the last 18 years, she has been nothing but a burden for the Theatre Manager; he has finally had enough and has asked her to leave the theatre. If Bertie cannot prove she is invaluable to the theatre, she will lose everything: the only home she has ever known, her mischievous fairy sidekicks, and maybe even the affections of handsome pirate Nate.

Bertie’s involvement with the cast of characters has caused them to change, expanding the personalities depicted onstage. Ariel, an air spirit from The Tempest, seems to know something about Bertie. He believes she holds the key to freeing all of the players so they can live outside the theatre. A player has escaped before, and Ariel desperately wants to leave the Theatre Illuminata.

In Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev takes us on a delightful journey to the other side of the stage, to the world existing behind the curtains. This book is truly for any daydreamer who has ever wondered what becomes of beloved characters including Hamlet, Ophelia, Titania, Oberon, and the frolicking fairies of The Midsummer Night’s Dream when their lines are over. Mantchev’s passion for the theatre is truly alive in her debut novel. Though the theatre is home to every Player in existence, most of the characters Bertie interacts with are from Shakespeare’s works. I am hoping in future installments of this series we will see more characters from other plays.

Though Lisa Mantchev had a clear and precise vision for her stage, I sometimes found it hard to really picture where the characters were standing and what setting they were in. Bertie has the ability to change the sets, and sometimes I got lost in her scene changes. For example, Bertie herself has written a play in which she attempts to describe how she came to be a ward of the Theatre Illuminata. The play then begins to perform itself. I was confused whether I should be picturing players acting out the various roles or if I should be envisioning this as a flashback. This is one novel that I would be thrilled to see turned into a motion picture–the possibilities are endless!

When Eyes Like Stars reached its curtain fall, there were still some story threads that had not yet been resolved. Will Bertie leave the theatre of her own choice? Will her heart choose Ariel or Nate? These answers and many more will hopefully be answered in Perchance to Dream, available in May 2010.

Visit Lisa Mantchev Theatre lluminata page for more information

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Feiwel & Friends. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.