So Silver Bright by Lisa Mantchev
Published by Feiwel & Friends on September 13th 2011
Series: Théâtre Illuminata #3
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 354 pages Source: Borders
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Act Three, Scene OneBertie thinks her quest is almost done. With the help of Ariel and the rest of her friends, she has managed to find her father and rescue Nate from Sedna, the Sea Goddess. Now, all she has to do is reunite her father, the Scrimshander, with her mother, Ophelia, and she will finally have a true family of her own.
Exit Stage RightHowever, things are never easy for Beatrice Shakespeare Smith. Her father has vanished, Sedna is out for revenge, her own actions have trapped the Théâtre Illuminata in a strange kind of limbo, and the stress of her in-between state is tearing apart the fragile threads of her mother's sanity. Bertie's best hope for salvaging the situation may lie in a summons by Her Gracious Majesty, Queen of the Distant Castle, and the hope of winning the magical boon given to the best performance.
Bertie is caught between her growing responsibilities to home and family, and the dream of flying free - just as her heart is torn between her two loves, Nate and Ariel. With so any forces pulling on her, how will Bertie be able to choosewhich wish to make come true?
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is in a bit of a pickle. Having just wrested Nate and herself from the hands of the angry sea witch Sedna, she has managed to learn the truth about her father… and make a sea witch really, really mad. In the conclusion of this trilogy, Bertie is tasked with saving her family, saving her loves, saving herself, saving the theatre, and finishing her play. That’s not too much to ask, right?
Before we go any further, can we just take a moment to appreciate the cover?
ALL THREE BOOKS IN THIS TRILOGY HAVE COVERS TO DIE FOR. Years ago, when I started this trilogy (#shame) I wrote a blog post because I was so enamored of the stunning artwork. At the time, VERY FEW book covers were being illustrated for YA and it’s a shame, because seriously? *flails at cover* This is freaking stunning.
The characters in this trilogy are amazing. Seriously, no matter how chaotic and roundabout the plot could get, I’ll keep reading because as sure as the sun’ll come up tomorrow, the faeries are going to pop up with some delicious word play and a treatise about cherry tarts. Bertie herself is also very real and determined and clever and fun. But every character here is uniquely themselves. Nate’s accent takes a bit of getting used to, but I started shipping him and Bertie early on. Verava is a wonderful addition to the magical world and Ariel is… Ariel.
I really enjoyed all the characters in this series (the faeries most of all) and thought they were interesting and well-rounded while not falling too deeply into cliches.
Although we go through a lot of scenery in this one, the world Mantchev weaves is rich and magical. From the seaside city where we begin the story to the forest as the caravan travels, to Her Gracious Majesty’s palace and back to the Theatre… you get a strong sense of place and being and it draws you in as you read.
The rules of magic in this world are complicated. The only rule I’ve been truly able to define throughout the reading of the series is that everything has consequences. There is a hierarchy of magic as well – the Theatre’s magic is greater than Bertie’s, but Bertie’s is desirable to Serafina and so worth. I wish the rules of magic had been explained a bit better, and so they do require some suspension of disbelief.
Oy. This is where I got lost.
I was able to jump back into the story where I left off after Perchance to Dream no problemo. But we danced around with SEDNA IS STILL COMING ACK RUN AWAY! with OH YEAH WE HAVE TO GO DO A PLAY FOR THE QUEEN I FORGOT I WROTE THAT and the love story, which had been a central focus in the last two books, became an awkward sidethought. Ariel kept running off on errands almost like the author was like, “Sheesh, I can’t deal with this whole love triangle right now OMG go away.” The story was all over the place. By the time you got yourself situated in the palace, Bertie got flung through a magic mirror. Aye yi yi.
Writing / Narration
Despite the crazy all-over-the-place story, I really like the writing style of this book. The imagery is beautiful and the characters are all a lot of fun. I believe this author is only doing children’s stories at the moment, but if she decided to release another YA series (or adult!) I’d be on it in a heartbeat. I have a lot of fun reading these books, and reading should be fun.
All in all, this wasn’t the strongest of the series. Because the plot was bouncing off the walls like a caffeinated gerbil, I had a really difficult time staying focused and remembering exactly what was going on… or had happened… or was happening? It was just generally confusing at times and that REALLY lowered the enjoyment level for me, despite the faeries and their antics… which faded into the background at the end of the story. Which was a bummer because honestly, the faeries are the best part of this trilogy.
I dunno. I really felt as though this could have been organized a bit better. That’s all. *shrug*
I have a whole post about this… because the quotes from this book are too precious.
“It is a nipping and eager air.”
Books I’d Recommend
Obviously, since this is the third book in a trilogy, I’d have to recommend picking up Eyes Like Stars and Perchance to Dream before touching this one or you’ll be really confused. Outside of that… Bertie is such fun, and it’s GREAT having a young, smart, fun, protagonist with a bit of a silly, witty streak and the ability to get serious or get ridiculous as the occasion calls for it. She reminds me a bit of Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass, Holly Short from Artemis Fowl, or Max from The Angel Experiment. This trilogy doesn’t require a background in Shakespeare (or theatre), but if there was one play to read based on the romps and adventures in this series, I’d choose A Midsummer Night’s Dream.