Book review

Stravaganza: City of Stars by Mary Hoffman (2003)

Part two of the Stravaganza series

Have you ever wished you could travel through time? What would you choose, backwards or forwards? Either way, I should think it would be fantastic to visit and have a look round.

But what if it was a one-way ticket? What if you travelled there and then found you were trapped and couldn't get back? Or would you ever actually choose to live a new life in another world and never go back to your own space and time?

These are real questions for Georgia and Luciano. They go to the same school in north London, but find their way independently to a sort of parallel universe medieval Italy, called Talia. Actually, Lucien went first. He went in the first book of this brilliant trilogy: Stravaganza: City of Masks. And he never came back.

Georgia, who had had a bit of a crush on Lucien at her school, before he died with cancer, is amazed then, when she suddenly time-travels to Remora and finds Lucien happily living the life of a Talian noble. Needless to say, he is quite surprised to find Georgia too:

His jaw fell open when he saw the slight short-haired figure with the silver eyebrow ring.
And the effect on Georgia was no less dramatic. She recognised the black-haired boy. She had been staring at his photograph only a few hours ago at her violin teacher's house.

It makes them wonder why they were chosen to become stravaganti since they are pretty sure that they are in no way special:

'I've had plenty of time to think about this,' he went on reluctantly. 'I have wondered whether my talisman found me because I would have been doomed in my own world anyway. I mean, although I got stranded here because the di Chimici kidnapped me and I couldn't stravagate back because I didn't have the talisman, I think I would have died in my world anyway. The cancer had come back, you know.'
Georgia nodded.
'So I wonder if it was somehow connected - if it was because I was already dying. And now, I wonder ... I hate to ask, but are you quite well in your own world?'

Hmm ... Georgia's pretty sure she's as tough as the horses she's so keen on riding. So, if she isn't the one who is in distress, who is? And what can she do to help?

I loved this story. Not only is it a fast-moving adventure story of intrigue and double-dealing, but it has some sensitive insights into such difficult topics as mortality, and the right to choose how you want to live your own life.

Highly recommended. Read it. I think you'll love it.

What can I read next?

This is the second book of a trilogy. Read them in order:

It's a nice idea, isn't it, to think that someone seriously injured in their own time could just travel forwards a century or two and benefit from the advances in medical science? If you are an older reader and you would like to read something else along these lines, you could have a look at this wonderful time travel story by Susan Price:

Or you might like to consider the conundrum in this time-slip story by James Heneghan:

Or there is this seriously spooky personality-slip story by Margaret Mahy:

Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:

Stravaganza: City of Stars features in these lists: