First off, YES, I know that the book cover looks small. It’s the cover version I wanted, the only one that wasn’t too dark, the only one that doesn’t make the eyes behind the mask look incredibly tired. And it’s the cover version that I have. 😛 This book is a really cool one, there is another world, and things turned out differently. You know that battle that Romulus and Remus had? The one where Romulus won? In Talia (that world’s version of Italy), Remus won and named the city Remora (the city that is, in our world, Rome). Remora is the City of the Stars (the main city in the second book). Bellezza is Venice. And in Talia, silver is worth more than gold. Because in their world, gold tarnishes and only silver needs just the occasional polish. Lucien, a boy who has brain cancer, is given a notebook by his father for when his throat is sore. He falls asleep with it in his hand and wakes up in Bellezza on the forbidden day. The day where no foreigners can be in the city, only those born in Bellezza, or those married to someone who is Bellezzan born.
Arianna, a girl from one of the islands on the lagoon, stayed overnight in Bellezza to try and enter the Scuola Mandoliera (or whatever the name was….. it’s basically a school for mandoliers). In our world, the boats would be called gondolas, but in Talia, they are called mandolas, because they are shaped like almonds (a.k.a. mandole). Those who scull them are called mandoliers, whereas those in our world are called gondoliers. Anyway, Arianna wants to be the first girl accepted in there. The Duchessa (viva la Duchessa!) chooses the most handsome young men from those who come to enroll. The MOST handsome ones possibly become her lovers. Of course, that all stopped when she met Rudolfo, she didn’t put him in the mandolier school, oooooooh no, she sent him off to university at Padavia and married him secretly just after the Marriage with the Sea, which had happened the day before the forbidden day. The Duchessa used a body double for that. But I’m getting confusing here. Let’s go back to Lucien. When he arrived, he was only in pajamas, his hair that he had lost was back, and he didn’t feel immensely tired (as if custard was in his veins instead of blood) like he had back at home when he’d been having chemotherapy and things like that.
Arianna saw him, rushed down from her hiding place, pulled him into an alley, and then pulled off the disguise that had taken her ages to acquire, and handed it to him to put on so he wouldn’t stick out as much. Then they went to a cafe, where Arianna explained about her world, and he explained about where he’d come from. Then they went to see the mandoliers being chosen. When they were going to leave, the Duchessa called for Lucien. Despite protests, he was pulled up before her and she chose him to be entered. When he fell asleep there, he woke up in his bed at home, tired as always, and without his hair.
Back in Talia, Arianna went home, got punished, and had to stay with her aunt Leonara in Bellezza (what sort of punishment is that?) And while that went on, Senator Rudolfo sent Alfredo to go get Lucien, because he had been waiting for him. How did he know he had been waiting for Lucien? Because Lucien had no shadow. Why did he have no shadow? Because he is a Stravagante! He comes from another world and isn’t properly in his body! ^_^ That is the explanation.
When Lucien came back to Talia (having discovered that night for him was day for them), Alfredo hurried him to Rudolfo. And he thought Rudolfo’s lab looked like a wizard’s workroom (minus stuffed crocodiles or cloves of garlic). And after a bit of discussion, Lucien (called Luciano by Arianna) discovered that science in Talia is what he would consider magic, and science in his world (planes, cars (a.k.a. “metal boxes), microwaves, and other things) were like magic to Rudolfo. And Rudolfo found the twenty-first century very confusing. Talia is still living in the sixteenth century (I think it was the sixteenth).
The book is amazing, fireworks were the best things in there though, they’re totally stunning. ^_^ Oh yeah, and Lucien, I mean…. Luciano, saves the Duchessa from an assassin at one point! 😀 Arianna and the Duchessa are my fav characters in this….. other than Doctor Dethridge.