July 23, 2012

Lesley Livingston's Wondrous Strange series

Wondrous Strange
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
978-1-55468-273-7
327 pp.
Ages 12+
2008

Darklight
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
978-1-55468-345-1
312 pp.
Ages 12+
2010

Reviewed from audiobook
Harper Audio
ASIN: B00309TZ04
Narrated by Lesley Livingston
6 hours, 58 minutes
2009

Tempestuous
by Lesley Livingston
HarperCollins
978-1–55468-455-7
361 pp.
Ages 12+
2011

Reviewed from audiobook
Harper Audio
ASIN: B004G81VZ0
Narrated by Lesley Livingston
8 hours, 39 minutes
2010
 


Lesley Livingston burst onto the YA literary scene in 2008 with her first novel, Wondrous Strange, which quickly won the accolades of readers and juries, winning the 2009 Canadian Library Association's Young Adult Book of the Year Award. Set in New York City, the Wondrous Strange series is an urban fantasy with the contemporary mortal world crossing paths with the hidden Faerie worlds, often as a consequence of the popular vices of revenge, greed and power.

Kelley Winslow is a young actor enjoying her first foray into professional theatre, performing in the Avalon Players' production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream. But, a chance and memorable meeting with the attractive Sonny Flannery, a Janus Guard, defender of the infrequently-opened gates between the Otherworld and the mortal realm, and Kelley's rescue of a horse from the lake in Central Park bring the Faerie world from the fiction of Kelley's script into her reality.

While Kelley attempts to explain and rid herself of the horse that magically re-appears in the apartment she shares with the beautiful Tyff, Sonny discovers evidence of a kelpie (magic-infused horse that drowns its victims) and ultimately the secret of Kelley's heritage. Through skirmishes with all manner of mortal and Otherworldly creatures, Sonny must convince Kelley of the reality and dangers of the Faerie Realm and keep her safe, while preventing the re-awakening of the deadly Wild Hunt.

In the second book, Darklight, the two young people, so desperately in love, are now forced to live in two different worlds: Sonny, still under orders from King Auberon, must destroy any remnants of the Wild Hunt in the Otherworld, while Kelley continues to perform with the Avalon Players, this time in Romeo and Juliet. After another Janus Guard, the Fennrys Wolf, tries to save Kelley from another attack in Central Park, they tumble into the Otherworld. But Kelley and Sonny's reunion is short-lived after Bob, the boucca, requests that Kelley visit the ailing Auberon and she refuses. Sonny, dealing with the jealous images Queen Mabh has shown him of Kelley with Fennrys, cannot comprehend Kelley's refusal, and seeks out Auberon himself. Happily, Kelley and Sonny are able to re-establish their love when they work together to thwart the leprechauns and the Green Magick, while attempting to save Auberon.

Sadly, Tempestuous begins with Sonny overhearing Kelley telling Tyff that she does not love him. Knowing that Faeries cannot lie, and not knowing Kelley's intentions (to keep him safe), Sonny disappears among the Lost Fae. But the murderous actions of rogue Janus Guards bring Sonny out of seclusion to fight, as does Kelley, those who would trade loyalty for power. As Shakespeare's The Tempest, the Avalon Players' current production, seems recreated in their lives, Sonny and Kelley do all they can to save each other and those for whom they care, mortal and Fae alike.

Though I've tried to give very little away regarding the plots of each book (not wanting to allude to culminating events that are key in the subsequent books), I can tell you that each book in the Wondrous Strange series has Lesley Livingston's signature wit, honest relationships, and sophisticated plotting, all embedded in the Old English folklore and the Bard's comedies and tragedies. For a special treat, listen to an audiobook of at least one volume of this series, as nothing can compare to author-actor Lesley Livingston reading her own work. Not only can she manipulate her voice to create very distinct characters, from young modern-day Kelley, to strong and loyal Sonny (with his disarming romantic side), mischievous Bob, regal Auberon, and self-absorbed Tyff, her sense of timing in the delivery of the clever repartee is impeccable. And the narrative, whether read or heard, is rife with the magick of a wordsmith who is able to forge rich tales that are emotionally engaging (whether to cheer for Kelley and Sonny's growing love, or despise the manipulations of the Faerie kings and queens) and edge-of-your-seat riveting (with chase scenes, deadly altercations, various assaults, and surprise revelations). The series may be called Wondrous Strange but it is more akin to Uniquely Wonderful.

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BOOK TRAILERS

I've put all the book trailers, uploaded by harperteen to YouTube, for the Wondrous Strange series on one page HERE for readers' perusal.

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AUTHOR TALKS

The following three videos (Lesley Livingston - On the Fly I, II and III), while not book trailers, offer a glimpse into Lesley Livingston's choices for her setting, characters and plot in the Wondrous Strange series.
Uploaded by on Jan 26, 2009 to YouTube

Uploaded by on Jan 26, 2009 to YouTube

Uploaded by on Jan 26, 2009 to YouTube

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