Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

I met Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange, at the AD Astra SF/ Fantasy conference in Toronto. She launched the book there and took place in a couple of interesting panel discussions. My favorite of these was a discussion of fight choreography and fencing. Livingston is a principal performer and founding member of the Tempest Theatre Group.

Her first novel is a magical tale about seventeen-year-old Kelly, a risk-taker who has left her home to take a backstage job in a small New York theatre company. She gets her first break when the actress playing Titania in Midsummernight's Dream breaks an ankle. Things are not what they appear, however, and soon Kelly is drawn into a faerie world which, around Halloween, threatens to spill out into Central Park.

This is a sophisticated YA novel which appealed to me both for literary qualities and for the sense of wonder. Our firsts always retain a certain glow in our memories and youth makes the whole world seem alive, almost supernaturally so. This novel, which involves feerie politics and changling romance is a light-hearted net in which to capture that youthful vivacity.

Jane Austen aside, this is the first book I've read in years where the "A" story was the romance plot. That's right, I'm coming down in favour of a romance novel in the fantasy genre, both things outside my usual range of tastes. For a more thorough review, you might want to read The Book Zombie, who gives a complete plot synopsis. You can also see Livingston interviewed by her publisher on YouTube.

Happy reading.

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