Thursday, August 5, 2010

Perchance to Dream

We start with a correction to the Twilight Zone entry. Richard Matheson did not write a novel called Perchance to Dream; his novel is called What Dreams May Come. I suppose the similar names (both phrases being from Hamlet's famous soliloquy), along with the fact that today's book does share a name with Charles Beaumont's short story, caused the mix-up.

Well! Without further ado, let us move on to the book of the entry, Lisa Mantchev's Perchance to Dream. A sequel to Eyes Like Stars, this novel wraps up the story begun in the first book. Beatrice Shakespeare Smith is off on a quest to rescue her pirate lover Nate from the clutches of Sedna the sea goddess with her fairy allies and the spirit Ariel. Other characters include an enigmatic thief and Bertie's father, as well as a troupe of traveling players. The sea goddess herself even makes an appearance. Well, look, I have to be honest. As much as I did enjoy this book, it was not as good as the first. Eyes Like Stars. If you'll allow me to get theatrical here, I think it was the way the first book kept close to the Aristotelian unities of time, place, and action. The action was compressed to within just a few days, it all took place within a few locales in the theatre, and there was really only one main plot. (It doesn't completely keep with the unities, but that is totally understandable as a book is not a play, and, anyway, the unities are kind of boring. But you can't go wrong with keeping things simple at times!) Perchance to Dream throws Bertie and her company into the wilder world outside the theatre, but while I eventually got into the groove of what was going on, the way the magic of words was introduced and used kept confusing me, and I just kind of went along with the flow instead of really absorbing what was going on. Waschbar and the Scrimshander were both important characters, but they were really abruptly introduced. I just felt that the novel's breakneck pace and piles of new information made it a bit of muddle. Diana Wynne Jones can pull that sort of thing off, but she's a rare writer. However, for all that I'm complaining, I still genuinely liked this book. I'll also give Ms. Mantchev props for handling the romance. It could have so easily turned into something like Twilight, except for Bertie's more sensible outlook. And I have to admit that I actually gained sympathy for Ariel, whom I was not particularly fond of in the first book. Really, all of the characters shone by the end of this book, even the Scrimshander, who took even longer to win me over than Ariel did. Wikipedia tells me there will be a third book. With luck, it will slow down the pacing and focus more on the characters in a single theatrical setting, what made the first book so great.

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