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3.31  ·  Rating Details ·  930 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
Madeleine and Rogan are first cousins, best friends, twinned souls, each other’s first love. Even within their large, disorderly family—all descendants of a famous actress—their intensity and passion for theater sets them apart. It makes them a little dangerous. When they are cast in their school’s production of Twelfth Night, they are forced to face their separate talents ...more
Hardcover, 135 pages
Published May 13th 2010 by Viking Books for Young Readers (first published 2007)
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Dec 03, 2016 Jaidee rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foolish romantics that love music and the theatre
Recommended to Jaidee by: gifted by my first love
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "enchanting, forbidden, heartbreaking" stars !!

Whoa Jaidee....catch your breath, still your heart and wipe your tears. This is what I told myself on the streetcar as I completed this novella on my way to work. A very sweet young South Asian woman was kind enough to give me tissues and quietly said "That must have been some book !"

Yes dear lady it was but I only smiled at her in gratitude.

This book was gifted to me by my first love and now best friend. She had given me Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino last year which I ad
Mar 15, 2011 Caitlings rated it really liked it
This was so….I don’t even know if there is a word for it. Parts of it were beautiful, parts of it were ugly, and parts of it were uncomfortable. I’m not even sure I would classify it as YA. I got it from the YA section, and it is about two teenagers, but the style of the writing is more akin to adult fiction I’ve read. Plus it was very much a book that took place in reality, yet there was a fantasy element to it.

Was it real? Was it all in the characters head? What did it mean?

I don’t have the an
Wendy Darling
Well. A lot of reviews are describing this book as "gorgeous," and while I concede that it is well-written, I wasn't swept up enough in the writing that I was transported by this very slight, strange book. Both style and subject are odd for YA literature, and regardless of where it's shelved, I have a hard time getting over the "what's the point" factor. It's weird that the first cousins thing doesn't bother me but the writing does, hmm?

Updated 5/15/11: Readers who are looking for a well-written
Jul 07, 2010 Kathleen rated it liked it
I'm not really sure how to rate this. It *is* beautifully written, and it *did* remind me of Tam Lin, which Laurie said someone else told her it might. But it left me strangely dissatisfied.

There's also the weirdness of the romance between first cousins. Yes, first cousin marriage is legal in New York, but it's still treated as WEIRD in the book and it felt weird to me. Especially since the two fathers are twin brothers (I think identical, although I don't have the book next to me).

Explaining my
Amy Wilder
Nov 24, 2009 Amy Wilder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who liked Twilight, people who couldn't stand Twilight
Shelves: favorites
A forbidden romance, you say? Shakespeare references galore, you say? Spooky old houses that might be enchanted, you say? Why, yes thank you I'll take one of those.

A bittersweet story of a forbidden romance between first cousins and best friends Maddy and Rogan. The story follows them through a year of high school when they perform together in a school production of Twelfth Night, an experience which both intensifies and changes their feelings for one another.

Hand writ
Feb 24, 2013 Odette rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to realize I loved this book - a few years of being haunted by it.

It is not a young adult novel & shouldn't have been marketed as such - it's an adult novella (obviously not as desirable a marketing category).

Illyria deals with a deep love between two cousins, with the idea of artistic gifts vs. artistic skill, with the question of what is left when the enchanted theater of all your expectations for the future is destroyed by people who don't understand and don't care, or
Steph Su
Oct 28, 2011 Steph Su rated it did not like it
ILLYRIA was far from what I expected. I wanted something slim yet fulfilling, with a magic that is solidly grounded in reality. Instead, I felt no connection to the characters, and felt like the author was trying to go for mood instead of engagement, with the end result that neither was accomplished.

Content aside (because there have been other books written about incest), how is ILLYRIA a YA book? It reads like the work of an adult author who chose to write about teenaged characters without any
If you can get past the ick factor, the story itself is captivating. With just a touch of fantasy (a really really slight touch), the author conveys so much with very little. She weaves words in such a way that you get what she is saying without her actually ever saying it. It makes for a fascinating read, but I did feel that something was lacking.

However, I liked that fact that it was slimmed down from your usual fantasy or romance. It only took about an hour and a half to read all the way thro
I tried, I really tried to love this book as it so richly deserved. Beautifully written prose: check. Two doomed teen lovers: check. Life changing moment: check. Flashback to "simpler" time: check. So what the heck happened with this book?


For starters, this novella was marketed as a YA title. Other than there are two teenagers in an illicit love affair, that's where the YA connection ends. This reads like an adult book, semiautobiographical in nature, with tenuous appeal for teen
This book reminds me a lot of Francesca Lia Block. I wasn't surprised when I found a review by her on the front inside cover.

I'm going to split this review into two parts- the relationship between Madeline and Rogan, and the fantasy elements.

So Madeline and Rogan are related. Legally they're first cousins, genetically they're half-siblings. I know the reader is meant to respond with an ick factor, but given how Elizabeth Hand wrote their relationship, while it is meant to be confronting, I think
Dec 10, 2011 El rated it it was ok
Reading YA novels only reminds me just how out of touch I am sometimes.

I read this because my friend had it and I recognized the author's name. Back in the early 90s I read a book by Elizabeth Hand called Waking the Moon; I might have read it more than once or twice. I might have really been into that book. Now as an adult I don't remember much about that book other than the impression it left behind, and it remains one of those books I wonder if I should re-read or if I should just let the happ
Jun 07, 2010 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Maddy lives in a sprawling complex with her large extended family. Descendants of a famous actress, the family members are dramatic, eccentric and interesting. Maddy is wildly in love with her cousin Rogan. As children they stole kisses under the porch, but it becomes more serious and complicated as they become teens. During one of their secret trysts together in the attic, the two discover a tiny stage hidden behind the wallboards, complete with effects and lighting. When Rogan and Maddy are ...more
Apr 22, 2013 S.A. rated it liked it
Okay, best to start with my confession. I am a major Elizabeth Hand fan. I met her at a Readercon a few years ago and am happy to report she’s nice to shy fans. Yeah, I mumbled something silly and almost bowed to her. I think I had used up my coherency at asking Peter Straub to sign a book.

Although I have interviewed David Bowie, Trent “Nine Inch Nails” Reznor, Tori Amos, and a horde of other musicians, meeting my favorite authors frazzles me. I’ll lay on the couch and figure out why later.

Mar 10, 2011 Glass rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, incest
I started reading this book today because I was bored and I needed something to distract myself and got so caught up that I finished it couple hours ago.
Book is amazing. I like that author used one of my favorite Shakespeares plays - Twelfth Night - as light-motive. Love story is definitely something else - just a bit controversial because it emplies romantic and sexual relationship between cousins.
I recommend Illyria to those who want to read something different.
Aug 11, 2010 Angela rated it it was ok
I have nothing to do with the World Fantasy Award (which is a good thing, considered my general apathy towards fantasy as a genre), but looking at other winners, this one doesn't quite seem to fit. This isn't really a fantasy - it's more like what one of my college professors called magical realism (and generally associated with post-colonialism, but that's a story for another time). This is a rather straightforward story about two extraordinarily close cousins who must face the realities of ...more
Wendy Wagner
Sep 09, 2016 Wendy Wagner rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A surfeit of lovely prose and deftly sketched characters. The main themes--the ways family shapes or destroys people, the nature of talent--is woven subtly throughout the piece. Those working in the arts will particularly enjoy Hand's thoughts on what it means to be talented, to cultivate talent, and how our lives can destroy talent. The romance here is as symbolic as the toy theater the lovers discover in the attic.
Katie M.
Oct 12, 2010 Katie M. rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
After 31 pages, I am done.
When I started reading this book, despite the fact that it is a gross romance novel, filled with faerie incest ( or so I've come to believe after 31 pages) I had gone in with the intent of finishing it.
Yes, the writing is good, but the first six or so pages are all about the families history and it was extremely boring (though it probably doesn't help that I was reading it at 2:00 AM)
After that, it got a lot better, and like I said, I like the authors writing, but
H. Anne Stoj
Jul 07, 2010 H. Anne Stoj rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I'm not sure if I read somewhere that this is supposed to be Hand's first YA novel. I find it hard to figure out exactly what YA means anymore, but that's not particularly important.

This was, to me, a bit like some of her other novels. I ended up thinking, mostly, of Waking the Moon and Black Light, also some short story with a name that's escaping me at the moment. As I like both of those novels (oh, even perhaps a bit of Mortal Love, hmm), this wasn't bothersome to me. Hand often takes us thro
Jun 15, 2010 Andrea rated it did not like it
I picked this up because of a recent review I read which got me on the Twelfth Night riff and the love story. The review described it as YA fiction and my library catalogued it as such. While the characters spend much of the story as 14-year-olds, they end in their 40s and to me it read much more like a recollection and understanding of time past -- more like adult fiction than teen. The mischaracterization affected my attitude toward the book. And then the characters themselves did it for me. ...more
Dec 27, 2011 Janet rated it did not like it
What did I learn from this book? I learned that parents and educators need to read more young adult literature because there's a lot of crap out there, and this book is the top of that list. After about 40 pages, I knew the book was awful, but I was hoping it would have something redeeming--it didn't. For the record, I am not an advocate for censorship, but I do believe that some stuff just shouldn't get published. The book's whole plot line revolves around two fourteen-year-old cousins and ...more
Jun 29, 2010 Ruth rated it did not like it
I agree with those reviewers who say that this didn't "feel" like a teen book; though the characters are teens to begin with (ok, and for much of this short book), it's actually being told at least 20-25 years afterward by an adult. I was getting into the whole "kissing cousins" thing, (though it was rather more graphic than I'd expected!! They clearly weren't just kissing, folks...) but the ending...well, lack of an ending...completely threw me. OK, maybe in real life, things work like that, ...more
Zemira (Kylo Ren fangirl) Warner
So,last night I was thinking how I don't have anything interesting to read even though I have over a thousand books on my e-reader but then I came across Illyria and thought WTH,let's do this.

This book was so strange I almost gave up reading it till the end(view spoiler) and suddenly something changes in the last 20% and now I think it wasn't so bad. It's nice having a closure in these books about incest weather i
Apr 06, 2011 Lindsaygail rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2010, ya, fantasy
I really loved this. A friend of mine spoke so highly of this one that when it crossed my desk at work I had to grab it. I ended up loving it as much as she did, but we both agreed that we didn't really know what to say about it afterward. It's a quick read, but beautifully written. There's forbidden romance, grand old houses in 1970s Yonkers, Shakespeare, a secret attic, a mysterious Aunt and a bit of magic realism.
May 22, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing
Illyria was a quite beautiful book, btw. It's a montage of different emotions, themes, rich, like a complex painting. Each reader will perceive different aspects of their lives invoked from the story. I hope it reaches a wide audience.
Dark Faerie Tales
May 24, 2014 Dark Faerie Tales rated it did not like it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: This was not a book for me.

Opening Sentence: Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical twins.

The Review:

Madeleine and Rogan have been best friends their whole lives. They were born on the same day and their dads were twin brothers. They grew up across the street from each other and eventually their friendship turned into love. They both have a love for theater that stems from a great grandmother who was a famous actress. When they
Jul 02, 2014 Hilda rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, tears
Rogan and Madeline are cousins. Their fathers are identical twins. Both are the youngest of six siblings. Both were born in the same day. They grow up together, and they are really, really close.

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 . . .

Maddy always protects Rog
Dec 29, 2010 Karissa rated it it was amazing
I just read another Hand book earlier this month called Generation Loss. I was intrigued to read Hand's take at a young adult novel. This book is nothing like Generation Loss (which was an adult thriller, but the writing style does have many similarities). Like with all of her books Hand weaves a beautiful and dark atmosphere and creates magic that is subtle and mesmorizing.

Maddy and Rogan are cousins born on the same day. They see themselves as twins, soulmates, and maybe, eventually, lovers. T
I have two issues with this very short book:

I read this because the inside flap said it won the World Fantasy Convention Best Novella award in 2008. Well, I have a huge bone to pick with those World Fantasy folks, because this is NOT a fantasy by any proper definition. There IS a magical element in the story -- a toy theater in the attic where the kids hide to Do It (and they Do It alot) which appears to put on its own shows, complete with little stage lights and the occasional real snow shower
Jan 20, 2011 Jan rated it really liked it
Shelves: teenbooks, fantasy
This book is magical. I suspect that it threw fairy dust in my eyes. In fact, it cast such a spell on me that I just let the story wash over me on my initial reading, without giving it much critical thought. But now I’ve given it some distance, so here goes.

Summary: Set in the 1970’s in Yonkers, teen cousins Maddy and Rogan are drawn together like a moth to the flame. Maddy is the moth to Rogan’s flame. Rogan is considered “fey” by some members of his family, with his effortless charisma, unnat
Maureen E
Jan 27, 2011 Maureen E rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
by Elizabeth Hand

Opening line: "Rogan and I were cousins; our fathers were identical twins."

Growing up in the sprawling Tierney clan, Rogan and Maddy are unusually close. Not only are their fathers identical twins, they themselves were born on the same day. And in all of the respectable stockbrokers and businessmen, it's Rogan and Maddy who hanker after their family's illicit theatrical past.

Hand's prose is gorgeous--understated and lovely. The story and characters are haunting and beautiful. A
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A New York Times notable and multiple award– winning author, Elizabeth Hand has written seven novels, including the cult classic Waking the Moon, and short-story collections. She is a longtime contributor to numerous publications, including the Washington Post Book World and the Village Voice Literary Supplement. She and her two children divide their time between the coast of Maine and North ...more
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“But talent—if you don't encourage it, if you don't train it, it dies. It might run wild for a little while, but it will never mean anything. Like a wild horse. If you don't tame it and teach it to run on track, to pace itself and bear a rider, it doesn't matter how fast it is. It's useless.” 23 likes
“You build a character, a shell, and if you build it right, something comes to live inside it.” 18 likes
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