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Review: Eyes Like Stars — Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars, front coverDisclosure: Lisa Mantchev is a friend and I’ve been reading drafts of this book since  before she found it’s name.  Also, I freelance as her sidekick and occasional ninja.  Yes, I am bragging. She’s worth bragging about.

In Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev tells a simple story, about a found orphan struggling to save her home.

Except that Bertie’s home is a theater.  And not just a theater, but *the* theatre, where all the characters of all the works of all humanity make their home.  She’s grown up amidst pirates, magicians, brigands and elementals.  Her best friends in the world are fairies.  The stage sets are doorways that let her live and play anywhere and anywhen she wishes to go.

But now she’s going to lose it all.  Unless she can find a way to keep it.

And all of that? That’s chapter one.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve read a few versions of this book, a few times.  And despite the repetition, I still get sucked into the book and have trouble putting it down.  It’s funny (though with the fairies sugar-fixated intensity that may have been inevitable).  It’s well written, with great imagery, and the pace is relentless, but leaving me feeling that I’m being force-fed.

And the biggest win, to me, is that this is a book with fantastic characters.

The fairies are hilariously insane, of course.  Bertie’s friends are loyal, in their various ways, but without seeming untrue to their own nature.  Bertie herself is a heroine who feels very real, through the variety of adventures she progresses through.  (I’m plagued by dear young female relatives who fall around Bertie’s age and evince a lot of the same dynamic range.  God help us all if they ever find fairies.)

And the villains of the piece are realized characters too.  It’s a point of personal frustration to read fabulous stories with bad guys who exist for the sole purpose of opposing the Heroine, and that extra bit of depth really gave the story that something that makes me want to reread it.

Of course, that won’t be what you remember about the book.  You’ll remember the fairies.  You’ll remember Bertie.  You’ll remember the headlong rush as she throws everything she is and has at trying to save her one place in the world.  And you’ll laugh.  It’s a fun, funny book.

Then you’ll scowl.  Because you’ll be at the end of the book, a good non-cliffhanger end.  The problem is that it’s an good end to a good book, but not the end of the story.  Which means that you’ll be stuck, like me, waiting for the next book to find out what Bertie does next.

The icing on this cake is Jason Chan’s stunning cover art.  You know why?  Because I’m *NOT* the target audience for this book.  I like fantasy, but I’m not so compelled by faeries and I just don’t have the connection to the theater that would make me reach for this book first.  But that cover would have snagged me.  (Heck, the book could be a whole lot worse and I wouldn’t mind just for the cover.  Fortunately we don’t have to deal with that scenario.)


And because it’s funny that it’s been exactly two years, here’s the blurb that I gave Lisa when this process was just getting started:  A bold, genre-busting tale of derring-do, of pathos, of bitter conflict, and lasting friendships, Lisa Mantchev’s ScrimshawEyes Like Stars is a brilliantly executed tour-de-force, a rousing romp, where all the world’s the stage, and only the players can save it.

It’s a good book.  I recommend it without hesitation.

You can preorder it from various places at the book’s website, at  In fact, there’s a contest running for free advance review copies, so go check it out.

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2 Responses

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  1. ej says

    Very cool! I can exploit my kitty. woot!
    the book sounds like great fun.

  2. Michelle Zink says

    Sunil!! Lisa tells me such good things about you!

    And Eyes Like Stars truly is a masterpiece. I’m telling everyone I know about it and papering Myspace and Facebook with its awesome goodness…

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