Friday, January 28, 2011


Hand, Elizabeth. Illyria. New York: Viking, 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

Shirley Jackson Award Finalist (Novella, 2007)
World Fantasy Award (Novella, 2008)

No one had ever heard of DNA back then, not in my family anyway, and our grasp of genetics was practically nonexistent. But, because our fathers were identical twins, their children had all been told -- warned -- that we were closer than the other cousins.
"More like stepchildren," said Aunt Dita.
"Half-brothers and -sisters," my mother corrected her.
"Kissing cousins," said Aunt Roz. That would be the cue for everyone to cast a cold eye upon Rogan and me.
p. 8-9

Illyria feels like it's set in some make-believe world where eccentric aunts never age, miniature theatres come to life, every house has a ghost light, and where Maddy's childhood crush on her cousin Rogan can turn into a not-so-secret love affair. But it's not. Maddy and Rogan's story takes place in a cul-de-sac in a town outside New York City populated by the descendants of a once well-known actress. But that doesn't keep any of the above from being true. Hand just makes it all seem surreal.

In this not quite a fantasy world, the ick factor of Maddy and Rogan's relationship is missing. There is disapproval from the family and their classmates make fun of them, but their romance is just another (doomed) romance. And it is doomed, right from the beginning, and not just because they're cousins. There is something off about Rogan, something that sets him apart from everyone else, and it's what attracts Maddy to him. It haunts the entire story in the beautiful way that it haunts Maddy. It stays with you.

I know I'm not doing this book justice, but that's hard to do with my overwhelming book crush! Seriously, everything about this book is lyrical, magical, gorgeous. But just in case you're interested, here are a few more reviews from:

Liz @ A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Jenny @ Forever Young Adult
Tasha @ Kids Lit (Menasha Public Library)

Book source: Philly Free Library

Links to may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program. If you buy something through this link, I may receive a referral fee.


the epic rat said...

The cover is gorgeous, and your review leaves me awfully curious to see what happens! I will definitely have to check it out - thanks for the recommendation! :)

anachronist said...

A lovely review - one that makes you want to grab and read the book! Thanks!

Lawral the Librarian said...

thanks ladies! i really loved this book, and i'm glad that came through in my review!