City of Masks, Paperback Book

City of Masks Paperback

Part of the Stravaganza series

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Set in Talia, a parallel world very similar to 16th-century Italy, the narrative follows Lucien, who in our world is very ill.

Given a marbled notebook to use as a diary, the notebook is the unexpected means that transports Lucien to this dangerous new world; a world that thrills to the delight of political intrigue and where a life can be snuffed out with a flash of a merlino blade.

The city of Bellezza (Venice in our world) is astonishingly evoked, with a filmic eye to detail, from the sensuousness of silks and velvets, to the thrill and danger of assassination attempts both and foiled and successful.

The world of Talia is unforgettably and convincingly real.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General
  • ISBN: 9780747595694

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza: City of Masks has a little bit of everything for everyone. The hero, a London Boy named Lucien who is combatting the side effects of chemotherapy, is given a leatherbound notebook from Venice his father found in an old attic one day. He inadvertently falls asleep with it in his hand and his transported to Venice of the 16th century. But oddly enough, this is not the 16th century of his world, but of a parallel dimension. And even odder than that, he seems to be healthy and whole in this other dimension. Hoffman has successfully woven a gripping adventure tale, a fantastical/historical portrait of the romantic city of Venice and a moving story of a boy and his family dealing with cancer all into one fast paced, original children's novel. I

Review by

It's not THE best book I've ever read, but it's probably my top ten.Lucien is a boy with cancer. One night, he finds that if he holds a small book when he sleeps, he is whisked away to another world, quite similar yet very different than a 1600s version of Venice, called Belleza. He is intrigued by this new place, and finds friends there. But, in Belleza the di Chimici extended family wants to gain the power of Stravagation, which is how Lucien gets to Belleza, and are soon on his heels....The way Mary Hoffman writes this book kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next. She also has bits in there for everyone: adventure, mystery, fantasy, and romance.

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