When I first started listening to audiobooks years ago, I was broke and owed the Los Angeles County library a lot of money which meant that I couldn’t check books of any kind out for free. So I resorted to buying audiobooks on eBay. My only requirement was that they be cheap. Like $5 – $10 at the most. I would later go on to pay off my debts one by one, starting with the most important, my library bill. And in 2008, I bought my first Audible.com package.
As a writing mom, my time to read anything but a stack of how-to books has become all but nil. It takes me months to read one physical book of fiction and just a few weeks of my walking commute to listen to an audiobook, so my Audible.com account has become even more crucial. This is all to say that when they had a $5 sale a few months ago, I went insane, purchasing all sorts of books I had never or only vaguely heard of. WONDROUS AND STRANGE by Lesley Livingston was one of those books. Here are my thoughts:
What it’s About: Kelley, an actress playing the Faerie Queen Titania in a MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM gets mixed up with real faeries and a very handsome changeling Janus Guard named Sonny.
What Makes it Different: I loved the conceit of an actress who is playing a faerie queen actually interacting with real faeries. Also, I think just about every 17yo dreams about living on her own in New York City. A
What I Loved: As someone who writes lovingly about L.A., it’s nice to see someone with a huge heart-on for NYC. Central Park, the Theater District, and even Tavern on the Green are all given faerie makeovers. I also loved the title and Sonny, the love interest and co-narrarator. And anyone who has ever worked in theater will appreciate Kelley’s determination to wrap her adventure up by opening curtain.
What I Didn’t Like: The main character has a stubborn streak that really doesn’t make any sense at times. Also, the story ran up on one of my bigger pet peeves: Refusal of the mystery. Basically Kelley’s told something pretty extraordinary toward the middle of the story and other than making one phone call to see if it’s true, she does no detective work, even when another character offers to tell her the answer to a pretty big mystery, she says she doesn’t want to know for no good reason, other than it would get everyone to the next plot point if she didn’t know what she should have been dying to know. In general, her lack of curiosity caused me not to like her.
Writing Lessons Learned:
Don’t let your main character in on a mystery if she’s not going to handle her business. That’s a really irritating experience for some readers. And though this was a first in the series, I find myself not wanting to move on with someone so passive. But…
A great love interest can often trump a main character. Sonny, the Janus Guard, is a sensitive guy and a man-of-action. Most importantly, when presented with a mystery, he actually digs in. Luckily a lot of the book is from Sonny’s POV.
Make us wonder about our every day lives: Livingston gives us a lot of faeries living among us. There a siren who busks, and many other magical beings who work real-word jobs. The next time I’m in New York, I’m going to be giving the more interesting New Yorkers a second look.
To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Teenagers, People on Team Faerie, Anyone Who Says That Midsummer’s Night Dream is Their Favorite Shakespeare Play, Any Teen Who Really Doesn’t Want to Read MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM — this book will definitely pique their interest.
Click on the cover pic to buy WONDROUS STRANGE at Amazon!