I’m in despair. I clearly went wrong somewhere with Daughter. Why isn’t she reading Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza series? It’s got everything she wants in a book, with the possible exception of David Tennant. (Mary, perhaps you could fix that?) Mary’s teenagers in today’s London could be cousins to Cathy Hopkins’s Mates Dates girls. And boys. Her boys are seriously fanciable. Definitely cousins of Tony’s.
The historical setting could be from Theresa Breslin’s historical and romantic books. Or from Mary’s own standalone novels. And then you take the people and the settings and throw a little Alex Rider adventuring into the whole thing. In City of Ships, add a tablespoon of Johnny Depp.
What’s not to like?
Every time a new Stravaganza enters the house, the Resident IT Consultant is there, nosing around like a puppy just waking up to some intriguing smell. And then he’s off reading. This is the man who can be quite scathing about reading which isn’t serious enough, so although Stravaganza falls into my category of settling down with lots of comfort foods, with dessert, it has a lot of merit.
I suppose we all want to be one of those teenagers in Barnsbury. The one who thought they were nothing special, who wakes up somewhere very strange one morning, and discovers they are very special indeed. A whole new life in Talia, four hundred years ago, and with an important role to play in Talia’s history.
In City of Ships, which is Mary’s fifth, it’s Isabel who carves out a new life, away from her leading twin brother Charlie. Double trouble. Isabel wakes up in Classe, the Ravenna of Talia, and she meets the very handsome pirate Andrea.
Mary has also come up with some new travel arrangements for the stravagantes, which means they no longer need to ‘buy’ return journeys, but can make single trips to almost anywhere. And they may not have mobile phones in Talia, but those canny old men have come up with Talia’s answer to Skype.
Fabrizio is up to no good, and war on two fronts is on the cards. Thanks to Isabel and a two-timing spy, things work out in the end. Mostly. Some people have to die, but it wasn’t my primary suspect which was good. And I do like the fact that old enemies can reform and become good guys. We’ll soon be one big, happy family.
If we could only tie up a few loose ends in London?