Beatrice Shakespeare Smith – aka Bertie. A young girl who has lived in the Theatre since she was little. She was orphaned and has lived with those in the theatre her whole life. Her friends are the cast members from all the play that have taken place in the theatre over time (most of them characters from Shakespeare’s works – go figure!). She has no family other than the players and the theatre staff. Chaos seems to follow her and she is a little… rambunctious.
Ariel – the air spirit from the Tempest who wants out of the theater.
Nate – the pirate from The Little Mermaid, who is in love with Bertie.
Peaseblosson, Cobweb, Mustardseed and Moth – fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream who are all friends of Bertie’s.
Locations: The Theatre
Main Premise: The characters from the plays are alive. And Bertie is friends with them all. She battles the Theater manager and eventually causes a problem with a cannon and she is told she can no longer live at the theatre. There is a book that keeps all the players bound in the theatre and Bertie has some power over it. Ariel rips his pages from the book and that starts the real trouble. You see, Ariel wants to escape.
Other Important Things to Remember for Later: Ophelia is Bertie’s mom. Bertie and the fairies are in search of Nate who has left. Ariel is with them. We don’t know who Bertie’s father is at this point – it was just someone “who had instead a heart filled with love for [Ophelia]“. Ophelia mentions a cottage by the sea, and the constant water. Mrs. Edith was the Mistress of Revels. They acted the pages back into the book. Bertie has magical powers. Nate has been kidnapped. Nate called Bertie the playwright because she wrote the play about how she ended up on the theater. Sedna is the sea goddess who’s scrimshaw was actually a piece of her bone.
Review: This was a change from the types of YA books I typically read. But I didn’t know that when I bought it. I expected more of a tie in to fairies or something. Don’t get me wrong, there’s obviously a lot of magic abound in this book, but it wasn’t what I expected.
That’s not to say I was disappointed. Because I wasn’t. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. I will admit that more of a background in plays, Shakespeare specifically, might have lead to me enjoying some of the characters other then Bertie a little more.
I thought the story was well written – and it didn’t go where I expected it to go. I liked it much better then where my brain thought the plot was headed. It took me a while to get started – and I started and finished a few books after starting this. But again, I think that is because I was trying to come to grips with my expectations and the difference between them and what I was actually reading.
I will say that based on a few reviews I read, I expected more romance. I didn’t mind that fact that there was less of that then I expected. But I feel it important to let you know that this isn’t really a YA “romance” novel. It is not going to fill the hole that Edward and Bella left (or the one left by Evermore, Fragile Eternity, Bluebloods, Coffin Club, the list can go on and on). But it was a great little story about a girl trying to find a way to hang on to the life she loves and is about to have yanked away from her. There are 2 potential love interests (one sort of comes about, but it’s really incidental and not integral to the plot in my opinion, at least not as of the end of this book), but the focus is more on Bertie and the Theatre and the magic she holds inside. Not to mention the mystery of why she is in the theatre in the first place and it’s really towards the end that we she she has great magical potential. Which I hope we see in another book (which looks like the case given that the title here in goodreads implies there are further “Acts” to come, which will be welcome reads for me).
Some of the lesser characters I am sure I would appreciate more if I were familiar with the plays from which they were born. But that didn’t stop me from really liking it. I also really enjoyed the way certain things came to life – the way the green room kept Bertie fed, the way the scene changes served as the backdrop for showing Bertie the world, the was the props were props, but not really props at the same time…. There were some really clever ideas in the execution of the plot too (where the pages from “The Book” went was brilliant, in my opinion). I can honestly say that even though I miss Nate – I liked even the ending of this book. And I would expect that finding Nate is on the agenda for the next book (or books). I am thoroughly looking forward to the next one.