[openbook booknumber=”0142400378″]


Elysia is a city that is a carnival of light, sparkle, shimmer and joy. Sweet candy, hot house flowers, music, bars, clubs, circuses and carousels all make up this fun house city of youth and excitement. But, to stay in it you must pay the price. Only the young may stay above, when you grow old you go Under, to a labyrinth of dark tunnels and shadowy places of quiet, dark desperation, wrapped up in linen awaiting your death. In this beautiful city Calliope is a girl that has visions of the future and plays the piano. Rafe is her brother, an impulsive boy that plays the drums. They join a band called Ecstasia with a boy named Paul that writes poetic songs and sings while another boy named Dionisio, Calliope’s lover, plays guitar when he’s not drinking himself into a stupor.

They all want beauty and youth and gardens. They want what Elysia has to offer, but they want it real. They want real flowers that grow out of the earth, natural rain that isn’t poisoned, beauty that isn’t painted on. They look in Elysia and get addicted to sweets and beauty and youth, they look Under and get trapped and addicted to much worse, drugs like Orpheus and Persephone. Will they ever find their garden of eternity? And, just what does that mean exactly?

The circus tent was flowing pale in the rain like a fleshy flower lit from within. It seemed to bloom in the downpour. Drops of rain caught on Rafe’s eyelashes, blinding him as the circus light struck them. He groped for the flap, that slit in the fabric that would reveal her to him.
       She was on the rope again, her skirt flashing with tiny mirrors, hair braided with petals. He looked up at her, dizzy with it, seeing her face framed in the parasol. There were bluish shadows around her eyes.

Ecstasia is a beautiful poetic novel that tells it’s story through the vehicles of poem and song, visions and dreams, third person and first person narratives, flowing from one story telling device to another as the tale unfolds. The book is full of metaphor, allusion and interpretation and to really help you get it you need to know quite a bit about Greek mythology to get all of the references and to really help you understand everything that is going on. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something else hits you and you have to sit back and re-evaluate the message that is being given. Everything is a metaphor for something else, resulting in a novel which illuminates a social commentary on our modern day society.

I love Francesca Lia Block’s writing and always have. Her words are just so poetic, so lyrical, and her descriptions so apt, interesting and thought provoking that you just savor every word and every sentence. Her metaphors and allegories weave the story together and the characters, the scenery, the dialog, everything just seems to sparkle.

Because it so open to interpretation, different people will probably get different things out of this book. But, here’s some of the main themes I got: love and acceptance, the illusions of eternal youth and eternal life, the folly of merely chasing dreams and the hard truth of working to realize them. Don’t go someplace to have magical things happen to you, make your own magic happen yourself.

As for the rest, you’ll have to read to find out!

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