ILLYRIA by Elizabeth Hand, illustrated by James Hannah. Hornsea, East Yorkshire, UK; PS Publishing; 2006. 1st edition trade paperback.
Teenagers Maddy and Rogan Tierney are cousins, two among dozens living in a tumbledown family enclave outside New York. Secretly, or not so secretly, the pair are lovers, and if this weren't bad enough, they are also drawn to the stage, to music, reviving a Tierney tradition of artistic involvement long since abandoned for more practical, worldly pursuits. Parents and siblings radiate disapproval. But encouraged by their mysterious Aunt Kate, and by a magically animated toy theatre hidden in a forgotten attic room, Rogan and Maddy become involved in a school production of Twelfth Night. Their own lives eerily echoing the play's concerns with twinning and disguise, they are thereby destined for brief apotheosis and lasting heartbreak, in a narrative of stark emotional power and potent nostalgic richness.
Elegant and fraught as only Elizabeth Hand's novellas can be, Illyria is a superb tale of illicit devotion and the fleeting potentials of childhood, one of the finest stories of the year.
Issued in a trade paperback edition of 300 (unsigned) copies. Fine.