Lisa Mantchev

Eyes Like Stars: A book review

Eyes Like Stars cover

Few books move me the way that Lisa Mantchev’s debut novel Eyes Like Stars did.

First off, fair warning, Mantchev is an old friend of mine from the mid 90s. However time and space and life being what it is, I fell away from many friends from that time in my life. Then Facebook came and a couple of months ago, I reconnected with this old friend, found out she was a published author and her book was about a magical theater.

Well, I’m an actor, a director, and a playwright and this seemed like the sort that would be right up my alley. But I resisted. I wasn’t sure why but I did. Perhaps the gods of the theater weren’t smiling on me? Perhaps Puck or Thespis or Ariel were conspiring against me. I’m not sure. I kept suggesting the book to everyone I met but not reading it myself.

I then bought it one day on Amazon. I had some credit left on a gift card and decided to use part of it on this.

I’m glad I did.

Few books move me the way this book did.

I repeat that for dramatic reasons but also because it’s true.

Eyes Like Stars is about the magic of the stage, about the power of writing, about a young girl finding her way and her place in the world, and is also about a girl finding her mother.

I love the theater, as I’m sure you know, and found my “home” on the stage, just as Beatrice Shakespeare Smith did. I am a playwright and director, just like Bertie. And I’m adopted.

I suppose at this point I should give somewhat an overview of the book. Eyes Like Stars is the story of Beatrice Shakespeare Smith, an orphan girl who lives at the Theatre Illuminata, a magical place where every character in every play ever written resides and performs. However after an a accidental mishap, Bertie, as she is known to her friends, is told she must make an invaluable contribution to the Theatre or be forced to leave forever. Bertie, with help from a pirate from The Little Mermaid, and four of the fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, decides to become a Director and restage Hamlet in Ancient Egypt. But what follows is something unexpected and original.

This isn’t Twilight transposed to the theater, this is wholly unique. This is…well it’s magic. It made this writer of theater believe in the power of theater again. It made me long to see the stars in the eyes of young actors as they discover the power of theater too.

Also Peaseblossom, Cobweb, Moth, and Mustardseed are awesome!

Read this book! Not because Lisa is a friend of mine, but because she is an amazing writer who has told an amazing story filled with rich characters. And if you don’t believe me, how about this quote from Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games:

“All the world’s truly a stage in Lisa Mantchev’s innovative tale, EYES LIKE STARS. Magical stagecraft, unmanageable fairies, and a humorous cast of classical characters form the backdrop for this imaginative coming-of-age.”

I highly recommend this book for all ages. You can buy it using the link below.
Eyes Like Stars: Theatre Illuminata, Act I