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Perchance to Dream - Lisa Mantchev Eyes Like Stars, the first book in the Thèâtre Illuminata trilogy, was one of my favourite reads of 2009. In fact, in my review of Eyes Like Stars I wrote that it was "a book that captured me from the first pages, with characters that grabbed me from their first appearances, and a world which enveloped me the second I entered it." As you can imagine then, the quality and originality of Eyes Like Stars meant that I had very high hopes for Perchance To Dream... as well as worries that it might not match up to the high standards set by the first.

It was silly of me to think that though, as Perchance To Dream is a worthy follow-up to Eyes Like Stars. It's funny, it's creative, it's full of twists and turns, and Mantchev's writing style is still as wonderful and whimsical as ever. Her blend of prose and scenes written as a script add a real shine to the story. It is the little details that can add that final touch, like sprinkles on a frosted cupcake, and in Perchance To Dream has those sprinkles in spades.

It's main character Bertie that really shines here though. She is one of the strongest female leads in I've read in YA for a while. A lot of people mistake "strong female character" as a girl who is just physically strong when really it is much more than that. Bertie has grown since we first met her, from a girl searching for a way to stay to a person searching for herself. She is strong-willed, the rescuer rather than the damsel. And she plays off well with the rest of the cast too. Unlike in some stories today, she is not an object to be won, nor a prop passed around to continue the plot along. Instead she and the rest of the characters - good, bad and otherwise - work together to build the story skywards, even if inside of it they work against each other.

As I wrote in my review for Eyes Like Stars that it is the reviews for the books I love the most that are hardest to write. It's a real testament to the brilliance of Lisa Mantchev that she not only stumped me once with Eyes Like Stars, but again with Perchance To Dream.

It's just going to be a long intermission while I wait for the final act.