Mary Hoffman,
Stravaganza: City of Stars
(Bloomsbury, 2003)

Georgia loves horses and has been saving money for a long time in order to buy the statuette of the winged horse in the antique shop window. When she finally manages to buy it, she smuggles it home to hide from her stepbrother Russell, who delights in making her as miserable as possible.

But that very night Georgia learns that her winged horse can help her escape Russell, at least temporarily, by taking her to another world. If she falls asleep while holding it, she will find herself in Talia in the city of Remora.

In Remora, Georgia learns that she has just been admitted to a very exclusive fellowship; only a few people are able to travel between worlds, and they must all have their own talisman. Called Stravagante, they keep their identities secret, for if the powerful lord of the di Chimici family knew of their existence, he would attempt to use their powers for his own gain.

Stravaganza: City of Stars is the second book in the Stravaganza series. Like its predecessor, it takes place in an alternate Renaissance Italy. Remora is the equivalent of our Siena, its horserace the Stellata, Siena's Palio.

City of Stars lives up to the promise of its predecessor. Filled with engaging characters, the story is well-paced and enjoyable. My only quibble is the story's reliance on a coincidence. Not only does Georgia know the hero of the previous book, Lucien, but she takes piano lessons from his mother and had a crush on him before his "death." While that does save a lot of time with introductions and characters getting to know one another, it felt contrived, even though Georgia's feelings about Lucien provided some nice conflict.

Since City of Stars focuses on Georgia, it is not necessary to have read City of Masks in order to completely enjoy it.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 6 November 2004

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