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Stravaganza: City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

Stravaganza: City of Secrets

by Mary Hoffman

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280661,414 (3.82)17



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Review for first four books: It has been a long time since I've read this book, but I remember I really enjoyed reading them back in the day. It was an original idea and fun to read. If you haven't I'd recommend you try it. But I do remember that by the time I was around the fourth book I thought it was getting a little too childish (writing style, wording and storywise). So maybe I've outgrown them by now. I've yet to read the last two books, I'm thinking about giving them a try. ( )
  CielCat | Feb 6, 2019 |

This fourth book was a bit a surprise for me, as I believed it was a to be a trilogy. It was a nice surprise though, as I really liked the first books in the series.

This book was a little bit less than the first ones for me though. I think it might be a combination of multiple factors. For one, it started to feel a bit repetition, it's not so different from the other books, and secondly, the story felt quite closed for me after three books, so I thought the re-opening wasn't really logic. Finally, I was also a some years older when I read this, and I think the story is really aimed at children around 12 years. It's still nice to read, I still liked the story, but it didn't feel as special as before. ( )
  Floratina | May 26, 2016 |
3.5 stars

I enjoyed City of Secrets and found it a welcome entrance back into the world of Talia. Its writing still held the feeling of awe that Talia has always made me feel. With that said, this book lost some stars because of the enormous cast list that was confusing for those of us who might not have picked the original trilogy up since it ended. A cast of characters or list of the good guys and bad guys would have been nice to have. Also, the story did have a few weird jobs that left me feeling slightly confused as a reader.

Overall though, I enjoyed jumping back into the lives of Luciano and the other Stavaganti, as well as learning about one of our new heroes' Matt, and hope that one day they'll figure out how to be in Talia at the same time and place b/c I think that would be very neat.

( )
  Kewpie83 | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is the fourth book in the Stravangaza series, the first after it was extended from a trilogy. Each book introduces a new Stravagante and this one follows Matt. He is dyslexic but finds himself travelling to Padavia's University where he works helping to print books. There he meets up with a student at the University, Lucien.

Although there's about two years between this book and the previous one, the writing is just as good and it's hard to tell there's been any break in the story or that the previous one was meant to be the last. After the bloodshed of the last book, the storyline has been stepped up a notch and the di Chimichi family are becoming more and more of a threat to the Stravagantes. It's a similar theme that I've noticed in other series of 7 books, in that the fourth book is the one where the storyline really takes off and becomes more serious. There's an awful lot of new introductions to be made in each book, both to the new lead character and to the new town in which they find themselves, but it's all well included into the storyline, rather than being an info dump. There is some repetition regarding what a Stravagante is and how it all works, but on the whole it's not too bad. Some familiar figures appear again, most notably Lucien and Arianna, which seems to be a running joke. I do rather like Lucien so I don't mind all too much! ( )
  Ganimede | Mar 31, 2011 |
Masks and Stars, Flowers and Secrets

With all the hundreds of young adult fiction books that are published each year, Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza books still remain my all-time favorite series since I picked up the first installment seven years ago. City of Secrets continues to carry over a high standard mix of quality writing, fabulous characters and thickened multi-layered plots. One warning about this episode, it is not a stand alone story. One must read all three other novels before starting the City of Secrets. Without first reading City of Masks, City of Stars, and City of Flowers, you will be totally clueless and will not understand who is who and what is happening. There are many, many references in this book to events and characters in the previous novels that are key to this story’s unfolding. The author has clearly put many years and incredible effort into creating her world of Talia, an alternate world of Italy in the 1500’s. Each book is about a different character in a different city state of Talia, cities that correlate to real places we have in Italy today such as Venice, Florence, Siena and Padua. The period detail that Mary Hoffman gives to this series of a glamorous Renaissance Italian world is incredible. Every page a work of art as the reader is totally transported out of the room they are reading in, far away to Talia. The writing is totally evocative of the whole culture in Italy at that time, rich in wealth, and steeped in romance, art, religion and history. These stories are so full of adventure, and are enchanting and exciting.

The series is about a group of teenagers in London who all happen to meander into an antique shop. Each picking out a trinket to take home. These selected items become their Talismans in which when the teens fall asleep with them, they are transported to the world of Talia. When they arrive, they are found and informed that they are chosen members of a selected secret society called Stravagantes. Stravagantes can travel back and forth, with their Talismans, alternating from modern day England to this Italian Renaissance world. Stravagating, as explained in book one, was accidently invented by one Dottore Dethridge, an Elizabethan alchemist, who early in the series adopts the main character of all the books, Lucien, or Luciano, as his foster son, a cavalier being groomed to be the future Duke of Belezza.

Book four, City of Secrets introduces a new Stravagante, young Matt or Matteo, who is given a book token as a birthday gift from his aunt. Matteo doesn’t care much for words, writing or reading, for he is dyslexic and finds reading nearly impossible. But when he stumbles into Mr. Mortimer’s antique shop, for some reason he is fascinated by an antiquarian leather bound book in Latin and takes it home as a cool novelty. Little does he know that after he falls fast asleep, he will enter the city of Padavia of Talia. And in Talia, as is a normal occurence, any afflictions one has in England is corrected in the new world. So in Talia, Matteo can read just fine making it hard to return to a world where he is insecure and dysfunctional. Each Stravagante is brought to Talia for a purpose, consistanty so far, to help the main character Luciano in his fight against the evil family, the de Chimici. This series is a hard one to review, its so very difficult to explain, due to the fact that there are numerous characters all coming and going and many plots with subplots intertwining from one book to the other. It is almost easier to review the series as a whole, rather than each book individually.

All the previous Stravagantes, Luciano, Georgia, Nick and Sky, show up in this latest novel to assist Matteo in his goal to help Luciano fight the de Chimici who are now instruments of the church, dictating that those who no longer follow the church and continue to follow pagan faiths, will be arrested and burned at the stake. In the other three previous stories we meet the nomad group of Gypsies called the Manoush, friends to the Stravagantes and Royal families of Talia. The Manoush have their own pagan ceremonies and rites and celebrate feast days to honor the goddess of Belezza. With the new laws, now they are thrown up against the wall, warned that if they do not stop their heathen ways, they will be imprisoned, and put to death. So with this new threat to the city states of Talia, installed by a de Chimici Cardinal, Luciano, Matteo, and all the other players must once again combat this fearful enemy, and rush to save their friends the Manoush with all the ingenuity, strength and Stravagating magic they can muster up as a team.

With an ongoing slow-building romance, non-stop action, mystery upon mystery, and plenty of espionage and court intrigue, the pace never ceases. With the ending of each book the Stravaganza fans give a standing ovation, and plead for more. And as of yesterday, after corresponding with the author, I find joyfully there are at least two more books coming, and this girl can’t wait! ( )
  vernefan | Dec 5, 2009 |
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Seventeen-year-old Matt, painfully dyslexic and insecure, discovers that he can travel between worlds after being transported to Talia, where he joins Luciano and other Stravaganti in trying to prevent the di Chimici family's breakthrough into our world.… (more)

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