Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Blast from the Past: Stravaganza

One of my favorite books growing up was called Strazaganza: City of Masks by Mary Hoffman. Mary Hoffman is a well known in Britain, having written over 90 books, but for most people in the United States she is relatively unknown. City of Masks is the first book in the Stravaganza series which was originally a trilogy (City of Masks, City of Stars, and City of Flowers) but has grown to include three more books (City of Secrets, City of Ships, and City of Swords). All six books were published by Bloombsbury, City of Masks was first published in 2002.

The books follow a teenager living in London (or thereabouts) in present time as they are transported to Talia (an alternate universe of Renaissance Italy). Lucien is the main character in City of Masks. The talisman that transports Lucien to Talia is a notebook given to him by his father because he is sick. In Talia Lucien meets Arianna who tells him about the custom in which young women must wear mask beginning at the age of 16, as decreed by the Duchess, Sylvia Bellini. The three main characters are different, yet share a common determination that appeals to both girls and boys. While it does not have the same type of overly dramatic action as Harry Potter it does have a good deal of action and the life-or-death feeling (especially for Lucien who could be trapped in Talia if he loses the journal) is clear. It is also interesting to see the story of the di Chimici family play out and how Hoffman is able to incorporate the di Medici lore into the book. I strongly recommend this series to anyone who has not read it. For more information visit the Stravaganza site.

No comments:

Post a Comment