Summary of Illyria by Elizabeth Hand:
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. (via Goodreads)
My Review of Illyria by Elizabeth Hand:
Before I say anything else, I just have to say that Elizabeth Hand is an absolutely phenomenal writer. Seriously, the breathtakingly gorgeous writing of this story blew me away. I can’t wait to read more of her; I need to hit the library to pick up some of her adult titles.
Calling Illyria young adult is a little iffy to me, just because the characters are teenagers for a majority of the story doesn’t mean it has to have a YA label. The themes and emotions the book focuses on are much more adult to me. But at the same time, I’m not one for labels and I read both YA and adult books constantly – I just don’t want people to be misled.
A lot of people will probably want to avoid this book due to its taboo first-cousins-in-love plot. It makes the book feel so dark and gothic – to me it adds a deeper layer of allure to the plot. It all feels a little other-worldly to me, which is what I think kept the creep factor at bay for me.
So, I really enjoyed Illyria by Elizabeth Hand…but I think it really is just something you have to judge for yourself. It is probably beyond a lot of peoples’ comfort levels, and that’s fine. But if you can get past that enough to pick up the book, I definitely recommend it. The writing is stunning, and I enjoyed pushing myself out of my comfort zone.