I have been laboring through this book for weeks. My friends, it is tedious. Every time I picked it up I got the same sinking feeling I used to get heading into math class. And I would have felt bad writing a post full of vitriol for a book I didn't even finish... so FOR YOU, dear readers, all four of you, I finished it.
Here's the premise, as I understood it (by page 100 when all of the pieces were FINALLY in place): Violetta is the daughter of Viola and Duke Orsino of Illyria. Her uncle Sebastian (yep, Viola's brother), sacked the city and now reigns as Duke. He had given Violetta to the priest Malvolio, but she is rescued by Feste and they end up in London. They coerce Will Shakespeare to help them retrieve a holy relic from Malvolio's clutches because it will somehow restore Violetta's claim to her Duchessa-dom. Also, they have a shew-stone (like a crystal ball). Also, Violetta is in love with her cousin, Stephano. Also... no... I think that's all you need to know. WAIT! ALSO, Cecil gets involved because Malvolio's reliquary could be used for eeeeevil purposes - like deposing a Queen. ALSO some character-inspirations from other plays randomly show up, practically wearing signs that say "I'M TITANIA, BUT YOU DON'T KNOW THAT.".
Between all that, we're supposed to care about Violetta. And - I think - Violetta and Stephano as a couple, even though he's gone for LONG stretches of book and randomly arrives and disappears to mean something again. On top of sometimes supposedly caring about Violetta and ANYONE ELSE WITH A PENIS. I'm sorry. That was crass. But everyone wanted what Violetta was serving up. EVERY. ONE. Which got very frustrating. You know those heroines who have no flaws in body or spirit and they're so strong, and so talented, and so pretty... and they pretend they don't know these things while demonstrating that yes- yes they are certainly all those things? That. You, Violetta, you are almost as annoying as Bella Swan. ALMOST. She only eeks you out because she makes a lot more bad choices, overall. And, I'm sorry, but how are you going to take back Illyria while you are in England?
Between all the plot points, there were some amusingly ham-fisted attempts at emotional manipulation. As if the next thing that happened couldn't mean anything unless you thought maybe the opposite for the 2 pages beforehand. It felt like page-filler, honestly, and if there's one thing this book did not need it was extra bulk.
It was really a shame, too, because besides the meandering plot, the confused relationships, the sometimes easily explained super power that allowed the plot to continue as planned (Shakespeare can, by the way, listen to conversations across the room while carrying on his own conversation!)... ALL THAT, and there were faint glimmers that this could have been great. Viola's arrival in and disappearance from Illyria (according to legend), Malvolio's patience with Time bringing his own revenges, an Illyria overrun with pirates friendly with Sebastian and Antonio - those points were excellently drawn from the original text, and could very well have made for an interesting sequel. If only the rest of the book didn't get in the way...
- Reading level: Ages 12 and up
- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition (July 20, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1599904861
- ISBN-13: 978-1599904863