When I finished the Wondrous Strange trilogy by first-time author Lesley Livingston, I had to share my opinion immediately. There is such a mass of YA fantasy on the market these days – a genre I love and so I should be in reader’s heaven – but sadly, many of these books are sub-par and disappointing. So many begin with an interesting premise but lack substance or any real plot – there’s so much potential that quickly draws me into the story but no follow-through leaving me deflated and disillusioned. Wondrous Strange, however, deserves any and all positive attention it garners.
I’ll admit, the reason I ended up picking up Wondrous Strange was the cover. But the blurb sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try (without checking out any reviews ahead of time – something I rarely do anymore). Let’s just say that I wasn’t even halfway through the first book when I ran out and bought the rest, I was that interested and confident in the story. So now I’ve got a mismatched set of one softback and two hardbacks which drives me crazy but waiting wasn’t an option. ;P
Blurb: Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .
Seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow always thought faeries were just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery. He’s a changeling—a mortal taken as an infant and raised among Faerie—and within short order he’s turned Kelley’s heart inside out and her life upside down.
For Kelley’s beloved Central Park isn’t just a park—it’s a gateway between her ordinary city and the Faerie’s dangerous, bewitching Otherworld. Now Kelley’s eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her, but to the heritage that awaits her . . . a destiny both wondrous and strange.
The blurb does a good job of presenting an intriguing novel without giving too much away so I’m not going to ruin it by spoiling anything. Lesley Livingston creates a blend of reality mixed with a hidden Faerie world largely based in Shakespeare. Kelley is acting in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the play is cleverly brought to life and interwoven with the plot of the book. (Who’d have guessed Shakespeare’s plays were accounts of actual events?) 😉
Things I really liked about the book: The humor is good. There were definitely spots that actually made me laugh – most memorably would be Sonny’s first encounter with Kelley. And pretty much everything involving the kelpie – you’ll know what I mean. The book kept me guessing – some things were obvious – some things appeared obvious but then a twist would come along and I wouldn’t know anymore. Kelley and Sonny are both strong individuals but not obnoxious. They definitely have their “teenage” moments but they don’t behave idiotically. I also really appreciated that Kelley had to work hard to accomplish things – she had her shining moments and her failures. It saved her from becoming a Mary Sue. The romance is a little insta-love but tolerable.
The epilogue was a little cheesy but still good. This book had a completed feel even though there were still some unresolved things from the story; it felt very wrapped up and the ending was satisfying. Also – a warning. Don’t read the excerpt inside the cover unless you want to be slightly spoiled – it immediately spills some pretty big beans. So does the prologue, though not as badly. Wondrous Strange is a good example of a book that really didn’t need the prologue to draw in the reader. And since it’s a scene from the climax, you spend the rest of the book knowing it’s going to happen while the characters strive to prevent it. It killed the reading experience just a bit as I like to be along for the ride, guessing outcomes. So if you aren’t too strict about your reading, I suggest skipping the prologue. You won’t lose anything and will retain more of the intrigue.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.