Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review: Illyria by Elizabeth Hand

Rogan and Madeline are cousins. Their fathers are identical twins. Both are the youngest of six siblings. Both were born in the same day. They grow up together, and they are really, really close.

So Rogan was darkness, I was light, and over the years the metaphor was extended to include just about every doomy literary reference you can imagine—Caliban and Ariel, Peter Pan and Wendy, Heathcliff and Cathy, Abelard and Heloise, Tristan and Iseult, Evnissyen and Nissyen . . .

Maddy always protects Rogan from his bully brothers. Rogan always shows his magic world to Maddy. Rogan has the most beautiful voice Maddy ever heard. His voice is so pure, wild, and somehow magical. He has a pure talent, inherited from their great-grandmother who was a wonderful actress. Maddy breaths nothing but him. He is her air, her element, her everything.

They thought that they would be together forever. However, they don’t what future holds. Rogan is always a wild child. When they are both fifteen, he joins a band and starts skipping school. He has new friends and he starts smoking pot. Maddy is worried but she can’t do anything to stop him. She doesn’t know how to. Slowly but surely, Rogan seems to drift away from Maddy.

Maddy loves Rogan, loves him passionately. But she also envies Rogan’s talent.

I thought of how Rogan moved, of his hands drawing patterns in the air. I thought of how he walked, shoulders canted back slightly, head tilted as though he were trying to listen to some far-off sound. His face raised always to the light; the way he’d stare at you so intently it was like a challenge, even if he said nothing.

There was a subtle undercurrent to everything Feste said, everything he sang; as if he knew some other, deeper, secret meaning attached to the play, something strange, even supernatural; something the rest of us could never hope to understand, although we drove ourselves crazy trying to.
Especially me.

Maddy wants to have some glamour or magic, a voice to summon up anything extraordinary, offstage or onstage. She wants to show enchantment onstage like Rogan so effortlessly always does. She doesn’t know how to have glamour… unless she learns it from Rogan.

And that’s how Maddy plays onstage, as if she is possessed by Rogan. She calls the memory of her cousin, and she pretends that she is Rogan. She builds a character, a shell, and is she builds it right, something comes to live inside it.

Rogan will always live inside of her… even when they start growing
apart. They will always be together. Forever.

I was afraid to guess at what might be there, beyond the tiny stage; afraid to give a name to what we saw there, just as I couldn’t give a name to what I felt for my cousin.

Magic; love.

Endless longing; a face you’d known since childhood, since birth almost; a body that moved as though it were your own. These were things you never spoke of, things you never hoped for; things you could never admit to. Things you’d die for, and die of.

“Rogan,” I whispered.

“What?” He turned to me, and his eyes gleamed peacock-blue in the footlights. “Maddy? Why are you crying?”

“Nothing. Rogan.” He put his arms around me and I trembled. “Just you.”

I rate this book:
Four cups of tea. Amazing! Love the book, it’s simply awesome! I love the tea flavor! A strong recommendation!

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