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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars City of Masks, 27 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
City of Masks is the first in Mary Hoffman's thrilling stravaganza series. Lucien, a boy suffering from cancer gets a strange note-book. This notebook takes him back in time to the City of Masks, (Venice) in Talia (Italy). Lucien is soon wrapped up in the city's thrall of magic, madness, mysteries, death and excitment with friendship that will last lifetimes.

This is a very enjoyable book, which leads on to a fantastic series, so if you are wondering what to read-this will keep and get you hooked, time and time again. I would recommend this for any between 8 (at the very youngest, and definitely an 'advanced' reader) and 18yrs old, boys and girls both. I would say that this is moreso a young adult book, but would be okay for younger readers.

Mary Hoffman has a lovely touch, making the fantasy real-a lovely book to escape to, that I would recommend to all my friends, and wouldn't be embarrassed to explain to my parents.

A must read. Brilliant.
Mikaela
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and danger, 20 May 2009
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This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
You remember how Lyra's Oxford in Northern Lights was like our Oxford, but a little different? And how Will slipped from the modern world and met her in her world? Well, City of Masks will remind you of that, and is in its own way just as effective and enjoyable as Philip Pullman's books. Lucien steps from his difficult everyday life in north London into Bellezza in the 16th century, a city that is very like Venice, but subtly different. He meets a beautiful girl, and finds himself caught up in a dangerous web of political intrigue. It's a gripping and romantic adventure story, ideal reading for young teenage girls.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good story that made my mum cry, 11 Mar. 2009
This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
Excellent book - Mary Hoffman is a great author. I am 10 years old and I think I was the perfect age for this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Masked delights, 13 Oct. 2013
This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
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 contrast to the Bellezzan adventures that you are almost always desperate to know what is going on in the `other world'. The plot is fast-paced and the switch between the different worlds frequently is like the end of an episode of `EastEnders' (cue theme music). As the reader follows Lucien and learn more about him, the connection Hoffman establishes between him and reader is emotional; you want a happy ending, but at what cost?

Mary Hoffman has written a novel with pace and excitement. The two time periods are of equal importance to the development of the narrative and leaves the reader with conflicting emotions throughout. The descriptions of Bellezza (like our Venice) are so graphic and vivid it leaves you wanting to visit and explore the city for yourself, finding parallels to Bellezza. You forget that this is not an adult novel and, like the blurb reveals, you finish the book in anticipation of what the next installment has to offer.

I would definitely recommend this book to read. It is so unlike a lot of the teenage fiction already out there and the characters (whilst there are quite a few of them) make this a delightful read; you love to love the good characters and love to hate the enemies! Indulge yourself in a bit of teenage fiction and I guarantee you, like me, will be left wondering what happens next to the Stravagantes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Enjoyable Read, 8 July 2013
This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
This book is listed as a young adult book, and one of the tricks with writing such a thing is to not dumb it down for the reader. For me the best kind of young adult book is to deal with issues that are universal, that could be an 'adult' book but maybe do not linger on detail and bad language quite as much.

Dealing with a central character that is sick with cancer is certainly a step in the right direction and Hoffman manages to do an excellent job at walking the line between young adult and adult.

It is the story of a young man kept away from his friends and school because of a tumour in the brain, and is now in recovery following months of painful chemotherapy, how through a gift from his father he learns to 'stravigate' between realities, crossing into another world much like our own, but different at the same time. This is an alternate Italy, called Talia set more in the sixteenth century, a world similar and yet filled with differences, and how he is pulled into the intrigues of that world, and finds himself straddling two worlds loving life in one and looking forward to regain life in the other.

It is an easily read adventure that really sells the other world Venice and the society there, which makes the book really work, with strong characters and full of interesting ideas.

Perhaps the end is a bit quick (SPOILER)

Lucien's cancer returns and the consequences are a bit rushed and seem a little 'easy' if that is the right word, but the fact that you are convinced he is going to get better makes the end that much more real.

All in all though an entertaining read that is a lot of fun and well told.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in class and loved it !, 15 Mar. 2010
This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
I loved this book which involves Lucien who is a stravaganta who has cancer, when he was ill his father gave him a notebook with led to wild adventures and great friendships.

This book is excellent i read it in an english class and got hooked !!!
I give it 5 stars because it is full of action, friendships and rivalry and is just an excellent book !!! I definetly recommend it to others .
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good book for kids, 27 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
My 9 year old girl has really enjoyed this book and it came highly recommended from a year 7 head of English at a good school.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 21 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: City of Masks (Stravaganza) (Paperback)
Brilliant read and a great series
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City of Masks (Stravaganza)
City of Masks (Stravaganza) by Mary Hoffman (Paperback - 7 July 2008)
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