Stravaganva – City Of Masks – Mary Hoffman

He was in the floating city, he knew that. It was very warm and yet still early in the morning. The beautiful notebook was still in his hand. He put it in his pyjama pocket.” 
Stravaganza follows Lucien, a modern day boy, who finds himself in 16th century Talia; Italy unlike any Italy that we would know now. The city, Bellezza, is an older version of the city we would now call Venice and Lucien finds himself in it at a very dangerous time. 
In his modern life Lucien has cancer, Brain cancer. His father finds a notepad and gives it to Lucien to write in when he is in too much pain from chemo to talk. Little does his father know that the notepad was left purposely in the house where he found it by a man called Rodolfo, a 16th century Stavagante, who actually left it there for William Dethridge, a 16th century Englishman who had visited Talia many years before. The notepad is the key to a gateway that was opened by Dethridge and means that Lucien can visit Talia anytime he goes to sleep cluthing the notepad and thinking of his floating city.
Lucien soon finds his feet in Talia, makes friends and has adventures that he could only dream of in his modern life. The city is under threat from the Di Chimici, who want the whole of Talia under their rule but the Duchessa will not bow to their request. Lucien finds himself in Talia at the time when a number of assisinations are attempted on the duchessa. Having found himself in favour with the Duchessa and the senator, Rodolfo, Lucien makes friends with the right people and helps Bellezza as much as he can. 
The idea behind the story is brilliant, the way you can sleep in the real world and wake in a world that could only exist in your dreamland takes magical realism in its stride. However I found parts of the book a bit slow, and only managed to get into it properly at the end. Some bits appeared to be very predictable but I had read the book before, when I was still at school (around 7/8 years ago) so I don’t know if that had something to do with it. Its difficult to tell you my favourite part without spoiling the story entirely for you but lest just say, it happens in the part i got sucked into, right at the end. 
There is a sequel but I’m gunna give it a couple of books before trying that as this one dragged a bit. I like it when a book explores characters in depth and I don’t believe this one doe that well but it offers a relaxing read to anyone who has mastered the art of skim reading. I hate to admit it but when I was younger I was fickle and what did draw me to this book was the cover. Its one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen on a YA book, so its just how the saying goes “never judge a book by its cover.”