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Mary Hoffman

fantasy author Mary Hoffman(1945- )
Mary Hoffman has written over 80 children’s books. We will present her fantasy epic, Stravaganza, here. You can learn about the characters and story lines and read excerpts at the Stravaganza Website. For information about other books, see Mary Hoffman’s official website.


City of Masks: Different opinions

City of Masks by Marry Hoffman

City of Masks is an "other world" novel, one where characters from our world can travel back and forth to another, in this case an alternate history 16th century Italy known as Talia. These travelers (and it works both ways) are known as "stravaganti," thus the series title. While this book takes places in this world's version of Venice (Bellezza), others in the series will range elsewhere (City of Stars, for example, is set in an alternate Sienna).

City of Masks is young adult fiction and has the thinness that one expects from books aimed at younger readers. One pleasant exception to this is the detail of the city of Belezza itself and later Venice itself as the main character first reads up on the parallel city then visits it with his parents. The physical descriptions of Belezza, its festivals, and some of its rituals and religion are all vividly... Read More

City of Stars: The Duke is in a Dangerous Mood…

City of Stars by Mary Hoffman

The Duke is in a Dangerous Mood...

City of Stars is the second in Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza series (of which there are currently five installments), following on from City of Masks. The basic premise of the story is based on people known as the Stravagante: a select group of individuals from our world who can transport in their sleep to the country of Talia, an alternative version of Italy in the sixteenth century. Armed with a unique talisman that enables passage between the worlds, the young Stravagante inevitably find themselves caught up in the political intrigue and power-mongering that goes on in the beautiful cities of Talia, whilst simultaneously trying to deal with the repercussions of their normal lives in the waking world.... Read More

City of Flowers: Rich world, sluggish pace

City of Flowers by Mary Hoffman

They Want To Take All My Sons!

This, the third book in the Stravaganza series, is almost twice the size of the first installment, City of Masks, and I can't help but feel that its pacing suffers as a result. Though still rich in detail and description, City of Flowers feels rather sluggish at times, with none of the intrigue or urgency that filled the pages of its predecessors. It picks up considerably toward the end of the novel, with weddings and feuds and floods and murders most foul, but the getting there seems to take forever.

The Stravaganza books are built on the conceit that certain people from our world are able to "stravagate" in their sleep to an alternative-world version of Italy, a co... Read More

City of Secrets: Feels stale

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman

It's Always Somehow Connected to the di Chimici...

City of Secrets is the fourth book in Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza series, but by this stage they're wearing a little thin. They're still very well written, but the freshness and originality of the first couple of books are long gone and what's left is just formulaic.

The concept itself is great and somewhat reminiscent of C.S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia. A select group of young adults chance across talismans that allow them to travel in their sleep to the world of Talia. This alternative version of Renaissance Italy and its... Read More