Friday, May 1, 2015

Novel Review: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Rating (Out of 5): ~3
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Release Date: 2007
Spoilers?: No.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other’s first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school’s production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents and futures, and their future together.

This stunning short novel, winner of the World Fantasy Award, is the perfect introduction to Elizabeth Hand’s singular voice. Her many novels offer a window into what it means to create art, to experience it, to feel passionately about the world. Illyria throws her talent into high relief—it is magic on paper.

The Cover:

This cover is all right. It's not horrible, but it's not very eye-catching. I do think it somewhat works for the book, though. It gives a good feel for it, and the image works.


  • "'But talent—if you don’t encourage it, if you don’t train it, it dies. It might run wild for a little while, but it will never mean anything.’” (Hardback, pg. 40)
  • "You take all these little things and you build a house. You build a character, a shell, and if you build it right, something comes to live inside it.” (Pg. 80-81)


This book is extremely short, which is part of why I picked it up. It’s short and very thoughtful, kind of slow, but also a little sad.
It’s about these two cousins, the same age, who are in love with each other. They’re part of a large family that live on the same street, some of whom get along, their parents are strict and they don’t really get along with their siblings.
Their relationship is interesting, and I was actually kind of okay with it. Maybe because I knew ahead of time, though. They clearly are the only ones there for each other, with the same interests. They’re both interested in theatre, and him in singing. But while she wants to be an actor, he starts going down a bad path.
I liked the writing, for sure. It’s very pretty and thoughtful, and the image of the tiny theatre will probably stay in my head because it’s so pretty. But it’s also sad. The ending for both of the characters, but especially for him and their family, is kind of depressing. She has a better time, but only marginally. It doesn’t seem like anyone was really happy to me.
It was a worthwhile, pretty read, but sad.

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