Waiting on Wednesday...books I can't wait to read hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
by Elizabeth Hand
Release date May 2010
Elizabeth Hand's new novel Illyria follows in a long tradition of science fiction and fantasy stories which reference the works of Shakespeare, particularly the romances, and Hand's lyrical writing style is a wonderful fit for the dark romance she sets out to tell. The romance tells of the relationship between two cousins, Maddy and Rogan, but like that of the twins Viola and Sebastian in "Twelfth Night" to which the title Illyria alludes, the relationship between Maddy and Rogan proves to be a powerful touchstone for drawing together all the "big ideas" of love, ambition, and conformity to family and social expectations.
Maddy, the protagonist, and her cousin, Rogan, are teenagers growing up in the suburbs of Yonkers in the 1970s. The cousins were born on the same day, Maddy in the morning and Rogan at night, and so they think of themselves as twins, inseparable opposites.
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 . . . .
The cousins seem intent upon invoking the doom dictated by their literary references for, though cousins, they experience first love with one another. The proximity of the many houses filled with their endless spying relatives, the unrelenting disapproving gaze of the family, and Maddy's own belief that Rogan is her dark twin all lend themselves to the feeling that the cousins are moving toward some violent end. Even Rogan's pet name for Maddy, "mad girl," seems to indicate that it is the self-destructive streak within each of them to which the other is drawn.
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This book really intrigues me...it has obsessive love and "doomed lovers" written all over it!