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Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Illyria (edition 2010)

by Elizabeth Hand

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2022058,111 (3.71)21
Authors:Elizabeth Hand
Info:Viking Juvenile (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 144 pages
Collections:Your library

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Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

  1. 00
    A Good Voyage = The Madness of Love by Katharine Davies (FFortuna)
  2. 00
    The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees (FFortuna)
    FFortuna: Illyria is also partially based around Twelfth Night.
  3. 00
    Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (Jannes)
    Jannes: Go on then, read the play that is the focal point of the novel. You know you want to.

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» See also 21 mentions

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Holy wow. I'm really glad this was novella length because if it had been anymore I probably couldn't have handled it.
Beautiful, magical, intense, masterful, and I could go on and on. It's a world I never want to leave. Just fantastic. Utterly amazed. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
by Elizabeth Hand

Opening line: "Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical twins."

Growing up in the sprawling Tierney clan, Rogan and Maddy are unusually close. Not only are their fathers identical twins, they themselves were born on the same day. And in all of the respectable stockbrokers and businessmen, it's Rogan and Maddy who hanker after their family's illicit theatrical past.

Hand's prose is gorgeous--understated and lovely. The story and characters are haunting and beautiful. And yet, I always felt as if I was just one step too removed. There are books where this distance works--Ursula LeGuin springs to mind--but here somehow I felt just a little too far away to care. I read it and appreciated it and put it away without feeling touched.

Now this might very well be my problem--for a different reader, it might resonate in huge emotional ways. And as I said, the prose is gorgeous. I would be interested to hear what teens think of it--I could see a pretty strong reaction either way, depending on the teen.

The cover is absolutely gorgeous, and really captures the mood of the story. I liked the clever method of obscuring their faces--so much better than the normal cropping the head off technique!

There's been some buzz or controversy or something surrounding the fact that Rogan and Maddy are cousins who fall in love. For me it was mostly a non-issue--I'm used to Austen's England, after all. But I did think that it was an interesting way to combine two of the Big Topics in YA. We write about family and we write about falling in love, but not about what happens when the two intersect.

Book source: public library
Book information: Viking, 2010; YA (I'd say this is definitely YA, both content and style-wise)

A few other reviews of Illyria:
Challenging the Bookworm
A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy ( )
  maureene87 | Apr 4, 2013 |
A quick, but quite disappointing read. It's a book that does not have a resolution, or at least not one that I bought into. If there was a point to the story, I missed it. That may be my problem, but I don't think so.

Without spoiling the story, here are my problems with this book. First, we have two teenagers, boy and girl, who are born on the same day to fathers who are identical twins. Genetically, this makes them nearly brother and sister. Technically, though, they are cousins. There seems to be no reason for this highly unlikely birth arrangement, that I could see. It's no spoiler (just read the jacket copy) to mention these two end up as lovers, which means incest however you read the DNA code involved. I'm guessing the author was trying to say the near-twins are linked in some way. Early on, someone calls the boy "fey," which is not explained. Why was he considered fey? Is there a history of Faerie in the family? Never explained. But we have these two madly in love, masturbating with each other up in the attic (they are still in 8th grade, if I remember correctly -- more on that in a moment), and accidentally discover an Impossilbe Magical Item (an IMI, for short). Which leads to my main problem with the book: we're never given even a hint as to how the IMI came to be there. With some straining, I guess that the boy-twin (the 'fey' one) is just that, and here's our evidence, though he has no clue what the IMI is. (But then again, those faeries are a tricksy lot.) He is possessed of nearly supernatural talents as a singer and actor, without a lick of training. Ah, must be that fey thing. Okay, I buy all this, but it's seems a cheap stunt to just throw in an IMI as a plot device. I wanted an explanation of SOME kind, even a vague one, that would tie the "he's fey" comment to the IMI and the boy's near-magical talent.

Then we have the girl-twin, who tells the story in that painful first-person YA voice, though she's telling it from the present day, looking back at events which happened in the 1970's or so. To cut this review short, I'll just say I never took a liking to her, and never understood why we were being told her story. She was a nobody. The interesting character was her boyfriend, and he remains a cipher.

Finally, we have the audience for this book, which is YA. We have drugs, f-bombs, 14-year-olds having sex (seeming surprisingly blase about it, too, which is unrealistic), parents who are depicted as little more than evil robots. This really should have been an adult novel, given the content, and the fact that it's told by someone in the present day (someone about the author's age, say 50ish) looking back on her youth. So, logically, it should be told (if first person must be used) in an adult voice. The book never states when the events are taking place, and only someone in their 50's or older will get the references to "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and other relics of that time. ( )
  BobNolin | Dec 17, 2012 |
I love Elizabeth Hand, but somehow I never think to check to see when she has new books coming out. A few weeks ago I was reminded to do so by a mention online, and found Illyria at my local library. A short novel about two cousins of the same age and in love with each other. They share everything in their lives, including prominent roles in their school's production of Twelfth Night. In a relatively short amount of space (135 pages) Hand weaves the story of their lives: the family's estates, the aunt who introduces them to theatre, the magical stage hidden in the wall of one house, and their eventual discovery that their lives may not be as intertwined as they hope.

As with everything I have read of Hand's, when I got to the end I did not want it to be the end. How can the story already be done? If you finish this way, just consider it encouragement to seek out more of her work. ( )
  quantumbutterfly | Dec 22, 2011 |
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Teenage cousins Madeleine and Rogan, who share twin souls and a sexual relationship, are cast in a school production of Twelfth Night that forces them to confront their respective strengths and future prospects.

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