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Stravaganza: City of Masks (Stravaganza #1)

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  13,022 Ratings  ·  542 Reviews
Lucien is very sick with cancer and struggles with his parents' worry every day. But each night, through a magical gift from his father, his mind is transported to an enchanting city, Bellezza, a parallel city to Venice of our world. In Bellezza, Lucien discovers that he is a "Stravagante," a rare person able to travel through worlds while sleeping.Befriended by a local gi ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2002)
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Cute. That a the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this book. Cute and mostly harmless. Adorable and sweet, but unfortunately just not too memorable. Like a decent fast food meal, it's satisfying but not too nutritious.

This is a story of a teenage boy dying from cancer in contemporary England, who accidentally discovers a way to travel to an alternate reality that closely resembles medieval Venice. He makes friends with a powerful scientist-magician and a perky tomboy-girl, foils a
Katerina Kondrenko
7.5 out of 10

Ревью в моем блоге/This review on my blog
Living A Thousand Lives
(please use Chrome/Yandex browser or Android/IOS to see the page; otherwise, spoiler-tags I use to make my post compact may not work)

Nilda Fernandez – L'invitation à Venise
Paul Cardall – The Traveler
Lucas Vidal – New Found Life

Genre: AU, historical-fantasy, teen-ish YA
Stuff: time-travels, AU-Italy, 16th century, cancer
WOW: world-building
POV: 3rd-person, multi
Love-Geometry: none and romance is quite n
Sep 23, 2016 Sophia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mary Hoffman has woven an intricate, rich tapestry of beauty, masks, intrigue, magic and danger in the first of her Stravaganza series.

Her worldbuilding and originality is exceptional, and I have never seen anything like it. The beauty of Belezza and the islands are completely striking, and Mary pulls you into the magic of it all with stunning writing and descriptions.

I do feel, however, that the characters aren't as good as they could have been. For example, Arianna's dream when we meet her at
Alice Radwell
Unfortunately, this is another example of a great concept ruined by bad storytelling. Our 'protagonist' (and I use that lightly) is Lucian, a boy with cancer who discovers he can travel to a different world (a pseudo-Venice as it were) through the acquisition of a magical notebook. However, this ability is never really the foundation of the plot; instead, Miss Hoffman tends to write where the wind takes her, forming a mix-match of elements that are never deeply explored, into a plot sequence whi ...more
Snoobles Mcgee
Jun 19, 2009 Snoobles Mcgee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book from my childhood (circa age 11) that I am so happy to have picked up again now! I'm not even really that interested in Italy, but I certainly dig the idea of inter-dimensional space and time travel! I'm re-reading all of the books in the Stravaganza series by Mary Hoffman in accordance to the release of the newest sequel, "City of Sercrets". So far, I've read City of Masks and I started City of Stars last night. This is, as I recall, the best book in the series as of yet. Lucien/ ...more
Faye, la Patata
Jan 25, 2014 Faye, la Patata marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
DNF at 22%

I was very excited to start this one because one of my all-time favorite concepts is TIME TRAVEL. There's nothing better than the fascination one gets when they find themselves in another place, in another time, be it in the future or in the past. I love that sense of awe and wonder characters get in such books. I think it's related to my love for both history and traveling, so you really can't blame me for the major excitement I had prior to reading this book. And I guess that's why m
In modern-day London, Lucien Mulholland undergoes chemotherapy treatments due to the cancer plaguing his body, but when he falls asleep clutching a mysterious book his father has given him, he is transported, or "stravagated," to an enchanting 16th-century Venice-like city called Bellezza, in the country Talia.

Lucien can return only if he can get hold of the book again while thinking of Belleza. In this colorful other world, rich with court intrigues and magic, he feels vibrantly alive, as oppos
Arielle Walker
Dec 29, 2011 Arielle Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-unusual
recently re-read this series for the hundredth (or so) time, and once again the story did not fail to draw me in. Original, fascinating, exciting - love it.
Sep 26, 2010 Krystal109 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(view spoiler)
Jul 11, 2011 Cait rated it it was amazing
Love. So much love. STRAVAGANZA: CITY OF MASKS was such a surprise. I read the summary, and was like “yea, it sounds good”, but oh man…it was so much more than good. This book had me trapped in its story from the first word and I was so content by the end of the epilogue. Happy little sigh and clutching the book to my chest? Yupp, that was me.

Basically, our main character Lucien is bedridden from chemo treatments to try and cure his brain cancer. His father gives him a book, and suddenly when he
Jan 02, 2009 Shawne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Recommended to Shawne by: Jet
Shelves: fiction
A heady blend of historical and science fiction, magic and mayhem, City Of Masks is the first in a very promising series about time travellers known as Stravanganti who can travel from our world to Talia, a country much like our own Italy and yet with its own completely different history and traditions. For all that this is essentially fantasy for kids and teenagers, Hoffman has created a fantastic blend of court intrigue (the Duchessa who helms the water-bound state of Bellezza is a delightfull ...more
Lucie P
Aug 04, 2008 Lucie P rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a disappointment. The story is childish and unrealistic – in the bad way. The main idea is not very original, the characters don’t read like actual, complex people, the plot is quite predictable. I finished the book, but it was boring, even annoying towards the end.
The Book Queen
Feb 06, 2015 The Book Queen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Like all the others, this is one is beautiful, but I think this one affected me more emotionally than some of the others. I nearly cried several times and I love it just as much now as I did when I first read it about two years and a half years ago.
Feb 17, 2011 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-picks
City of Masks is a wonderful story which intricately weaves the present world with a parallel fantasical historical world. This is every bit my favourite type of story and it was a delight to read.

Lucien lives in modern day England but his life is marked by his illness. He has cancer and at the beginning of the story he is undergoing chemotherapy to treat the tumour. Arianna lives in Talia, a parallel universe for want of a better description, which has a feel of 16th century Italy but has its o
The Stravaganza series is based on a really interesting fantasy concept: a select few people can travel between two worlds, the world as we know it and an alternate version of Renaissance Italy. The action takes place in another Venice, called Bellezza. This is the stravagation the series title refers to. It's a great idea, but it really could have used a bit more development. The whole book, in fact, could have used a bit more development.

The book mainly follows two main characters, Lucien and
Nov 01, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Masked delights:

Take some teenage fiction and add mystery, masks and a spot of time travel and you get Mary Hoffman’s ‘City of Masks’. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is technically teenage fiction, as, like I am sure most of you are aware, this catalogue has dramatically increased in recent years, with books appealing to adults alike. And this novel is no exception.

Following Lucien through his adventure is gripping and at the same time quite emotional. The present day story is such a con
This hit on some MAJOR pet peeves for me, so even though I saw potential in some respects, I gave up.
This book was an excellent and gripping read with great characters and a new and original story. I have loved reading this book and it is a new favourite but I'm trying to be way less liberal with my five star reviews so it only gets four.

The main characters are Arianna and Lucien; Arianna is a girl who lives near to the city of Masks (Bellezza), sick of the rules imposed against her gender and breaks the rules entering the City of Masks on a day when she isn't supposed to. There she meets Luci
Γιώτα Παπαδημακοπούλου
Έψαχνα κάτι καινούργιο, κάτι το διαφορετικό. Ήθελα η ιστορία με την οποία θα καταπιανόμουν αυτή τη φορά να μην έχει τίποτα το γνώριμο, τίποτα το προβλέψιμο. Και ξαφνικά, σε ένα βιβλίο με προσφορές, ανάμεσα σε τόσα άλλα, ξεχώρισα ένα φανταχτερό μωβ εξώφυλλο με μια ασημένια, λαμπερή μάσκα πίσω από την οποία βρίσκονταν δυο μυστηριώδη βιολετί μάτια που αγνάντευαν ένα κανάλι της Βενετίας. Ή μήπως όχι; Όσο κι αν η εικόνα σε οδηγούσε σε ένα συμπέρασμα, διαβάζοντας το οπισθόφυλλο αντιλαμβανόσουν ότι τα ...more
Lucien Mulholland has terminal cancer. He's always tired, his body is weak, his thick black hair has fallen out, and he can't play the violin anymore.

With little to cheer him up in his last days, Lucien is given an antique notebook - a very old antique, as in Renaissance Italian. Falling asleep with the notebook in his hand, he is transported to a magical place that is and yet isn't sixteenth-century Venice.

While he was terribly sick in England, Lucien is healthy and vital in this other world.
Jun 29, 2010 Beatrice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

When I was 11, or 10 perhaps, I went to the library with my mum. I think I was standing in the horse-department when I saw it; City of Stars. It’s kind of weird because it doesn’t really fit in that category, but anyway, I was kind of bummed when I realised I had to read another book with a weird mask on it firstsince it was the first book in the series. Thinking about it for a while, I decided I really wanted to read the pretty book with the black horse, so I took the first three in th
Πάνος Τουρλής
Ένα πανέμορφο κείμενο, ένα απίστευτο ταξίδι επιστημονικής φαντασίας. Στην αρχή ομολογώ ότι ενοχλήθηκα, γιατί να χρησιμοποιήσει έναν παράλληλο κόσμο ΣΑΝ την Ιταλία και τη Βενετία και να μη μας ταξιδέψει στην ίδια τη Βενετία; Έλα όμως που η φαντασία της συγγραφέως είναι τόσο καλοδουλεμένη και ο κόσμος που μας παρουσιάζει τόσο όμορφος που παρασύρθηκα....Ο Λυσιέν λοιπόν έχει καρκίνο και παλεύει την αρρώστια που τον κατατρώει. Ένα μαγικό σημειωματάριο-δώρο του πατέρα του τον οδηγεί μέσα από τον χωροχ ...more
Jan 17, 2011 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yal
Lucien is a fifteen year old boy living in London, England with his parents. Like other fifteen year old boys he has a best friend, Tom, feels his mom is always fussing over him, and always wants some more sleep. Unlike boys his age, Lucien has a brain tumor and is currently being treated with chemotherapy. His days are difficult and he often feels drained and exhausted from simple activities like getting dressed and eating breakfast. He can’t go to school anymore because of treatment and his da ...more
Alex Matsu
Nov 03, 2009 Alex Matsu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: grade-8-ir-books
City Of Masks is about a boy named Lucien who is surviving cancer in England. He just stopped doing chemo therapy, and can't talk so his dad buys him a book to write his words in. When Lucien falls asleep with the book in his pocket he wakes up in a city made of silver with canals and gondolas much like Italy. His hair has grown back and he feels healthy, but a boy come up to him and hides him, telling him that he is in Bellezza, and only Bellezzans can be there on that day. The boy turns out t ...more
Oct 22, 2012 Nichelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-12
The first book in the Stravaganza series is the story of a boy named Lucien suffering from cancerous tumor in his brain, who after going through another round of Chemo Therapy, finds himself unable to speak due to the pain the chemo causes in his throat. To remedy this, his father presents him with a beautiful notebook in which he can write his words instead of speaking them. One night, after he falls asleep holding the book in his hands, he finds himself in a mysterious place that closely resem ...more
Stacia (the 2010 club)
City of Masks had all the elements to be a great story. Take one hero with cancer that can time travel to another world that resembles 1600's Venice. When he's in this other world, he is somehow well and strong again. Add in a cute girl his age that he gets into random adventures with, and we have a recipe for success, right?

In theory, this story should have been AMAZING. While I enjoyed the book and will eventually get around to reading the second in the series, there was something missing that
Aug 09, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
Teenage Lucien is seriously ill. Chemotherapy has left him too weak to do anything but lie in bed and dream. But everything changes when an antique notebook he is given by his father transports him to sixteenth century Belezzza, an alternative Venice in another dimension.

Here his illness is left behind and he becomes involved with Arianna, an impulsive teenage girl with a burning ambition to become a mandolier, the Belezzan equivalent to a gondolier. It's a profession only open to young men but
Oct 25, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans
This is sooo good! I'd almost put it on the same level as Harry Potter, but this is only the first of the series so I probably shouldn't speak so soon.
I liked the ending, surprisingly. At first, I was angry--who likes an ending that's even slightly tinted with sadness? But at the same time, I did like it because it wasn't that stupid happily ever after stuff, although, in a sense, a lot worked out. So it had a happy ending, but it was also a sad, poignant ending...And man, that must have been co
Emma Oldroyd
I found this book very hard to get through. I had to force myself to finish it. It wasn't that it was a bad story, It just didn't click with me and I couldn't seem to get into it. The writing was okay, although there wasn't much character development, and I felt more like someone was just telling me what happened instead of how books are supposed to take you to the moment. I didn't mind the concept of the book, how there are stravaganti who travel through to different worlds, but all the details ...more
Nov 04, 2011 Rhea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diperlukan konsentrasi penuh untuk membacanya. Cerita dari sudut pandang yang banyak dan melompat-lompat dari satu cerita ke cerita lain. Dan kau baru akan mengetahui sudut pandang siapa sekarang setelah kau membaca beberapa kalimat.

Dalam satu cerita biasanya kau akan mendapati satu sudut pandang. Tapi tidak di buku ini. Terkadang buku ini memberikan jeda beberapa baris sebagai pengalihan sudut pandang cerita tapi terkadang juga tidak. Dan semakin ke belakang, sudut pandang siapa yang sedang kau
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
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  • The Crystal Mask (The Echorium Sequence, #2)
  • The Dark (Guardians of Time, #2)
  • The Doomspell (Doomspell, #1)
  • The Cry of the Icemark (The Icemark Chronicles, #1)
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  • The Magicians of Caprona (Chrestomanci, #4)
  • Slaves of the Mastery (Wind on Fire, #2)
  • Faerie Lord (The Faerie Wars Chronicles, #4)
  • Heir Apparent (Rasmussem Corporation, #2)
Mary Hoffman is a bestselling British author and reviewer, born in 1945. She is a true enthusiast of Italy and spends a lot of her time there, which shows in her Stravaganza novels: a series currently in publication. In total, she has written over 80 books, including the aforementioned Stravaganza series and the bestselling picture book, Amazing Grace. Mary is also the editor of a review magazine ...more
More about Mary Hoffman...

Other Books in the Series

Stravaganza (6 books)
  • City of Stars (Stravaganza, #2)
  • City of Flowers (Stravaganza, #3)
  • City of Secrets (Stravaganza, #4)
  • City of Ships (Stravaganza, #5)
  • City of Swords (Stravaganza, #6)

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“I hardly think a girl is much of a threat. I presume you searched her for weapons? But if she attempts to suffocate me with her straw mattress, I promise to call out for help.” 52 likes
“If I had known, do you think I should have let her get away with this mad plan? That I should have let her rob me of my child? No, I should have taken you myself and hidden with you in some far-off land and never seen her again rather than agree to such an unnatural scheme” 21 likes
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