‘City of Secrets’ – Mary Hoffman
When Matt turns seventeen, he is shocked by how drawn he is to an old leather-bound book — especially since he is dyslexic and has never liked to read. But the book turns out to be far more powerful than Matt could have imagined. It is his talisman, an object that allows him to stravagate through time and place to a country called Talia. There, Matt arrives at Padavia University, where he meets other Stravaganti — including Luciano, who is in great danger after killing the head of the powerful di Chimici family in a duel. Together, Matt, Luciano and Arianna, a Duchessa in disguise as a boy, must fight the di Chimici family before they make a terrifying breakthrough into our modern world…
Mary Hoffman returns with the next book in the Stravagante series and if you liked her previous books, then you will not be disappointed. Set in Padavia, we are introduced to a new Talian location but, unlike the previous books, there is less of a focus on there geography and more on people, action and politics.
In ‘City of Secrets’ we follow Matt,the new Stravagante. He, like his predecessors, faces some modern, personal challenges to overcome and it is these that lead him to securing his talisman. The same characters return once again and they reunite to help Matt when he is in danger. Surprisingly, however, the Stravagante secret circle broadens a fair bit, with Matt’s girlfriend and Lucien’s parents finding out about the Brotherhood. I was quite surprised that Hoffman chose to do this, particularly with the offer that Matt’s girlfriend could “visit” Talia and felt that this lessened the magic of stravagation. Indeed, Lucien even returns to Islington a couple of times and I thought this did kind of go against the warnings he received early on in the series.
That being said I really enjoyed the politics and treachery of ‘City of Secrets’ and could not predict how the plot would develop. The ending is a bit of a surprise and, if I am completely honest, a bit of an anti-climax to what had happened previously, but I enjoyed the happy ending that prevailed. This time Hoffman finishes with an Epilogue and tied up all the plot strands very neatly.
I am really keen to see how the next story in the series progresses. It is clear that the political tensions from the di Chimici family are becoming more threatening for the Stravagante and I look forward to seeing them triumph over such a dangerous power. Definitely read this if you enjoyed the other books in the series because Hoffman keeps it fresh and enjoyable to read.