Since the dawn of time, the Faerie have taken. . . .
Seventeen-year-old actress Kelley Winslow always thought faeries were just something from childhood stories. Then she meets Sonny Flannery. He's a changeling—a mortal taken as an infant and raised among Faerie—and within short order he's turned Kelley's heart inside out and her life upside down.
For Kelley's beloved Central Park isn't just a park—it's a gateway between her ordinary city and the Faerie's dangerous, bewitching Otherworld. Now Kelley's eyes are opening not just to the Faerie that surround her, but to the heritage that awaits her . . . a destiny both wondrous and strange.
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About the Author
Lesley Livingston is a writer and actress living in Toronto. She has a master's degree in English from the University of Toronto, where she specialized in Arthurian literature and Shakespeare. She frequently per-forms with the Tempest Theatre Group, of which she is a cofounder. She is also the author of Wondrous strange, which won the Canadian Librarian Association Young Adult Book Award in addition to being a White Pine Honor Book, and Darklight.
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By Lesley Livingston
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One What do you mean, 'promoted'?" Kelley Winslow felt her pulse quicken.
It was the fifth week of rehearsals for the Avalon Grande's production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Never mind that the Avalon Players-a third-tier repertory company so far off Broadway it might as well have been in Hoboken-had only hired Kelley as an understudy, which really meant glorified stagehand. It was her first real job as an actress after a disastrous stint in theater school, and, at only seventeen, Kelley had been grateful for the résumé builder. But today, three steps into the theater, Mindi the stage manager had waylaid her.
Kelley was carrying a box of props she'd gone to fetch from the company van parked outside, and she had a pair of fairy wings strapped to her shoulders-the only way she could carry them without crushing the wire frames. "Mindi?" she asked again. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, don't bother taking off the wings, kid." Mindi took the box of props from her hands. "Our darling Diva deWinter just busted her ankle. She is out of commission, and that means you, little understudy, will be stepping into the lead role of Titania, the fairy queen, for the run of this show."
Kelley was speechless. She'd dreamed of this-although however many times she'd sat through rehearsals, watching Barbara deWinter overact and undercharm her way through her scenes, she'd never wished anything bad upon her. But Kelley guiltily felt a rising sense of glee. This is it. This is my big break!
"Hey!" Mindi gave her a friendly shove. "Enough day-dreaming. We open in ten days and Quentin is-well, to put it mildly, our esteemed director is now freaking out. So I suggest you go slip into a rehearsal skirt and haul your understudy butt onstage so that the Mighty Q can run you through your scenes. Good luck."
My scenes. My scenes ...
Thoughts in a whirl, Kelley almost ran down the actor playing Puck as he swung himself gracefully off the set scaffolding, singing "Am I blue?" Funny, because he was actually green, a pale iridescent shade head to toe-hair, skin, eyes-right down to his leafy tunic. Kelley had been told by one of the other actors that his name was Bob but that he was something of an extreme Method actor and had demanded he be referred to only by his character name while in costume and makeup-on threat of quitting the production otherwise.
Between him and the equally demanding and very English director Quentin St. John Smyth, Kelley was beginning to think she'd fallen in with a real asylumful at the Avalon Grande. She threw open the doors to the wardrobe storage and fumbled with the rack of rehearsal skirts, slipping one over her jeans and buttoning it as best she could with trembling fingers. "'Fairies, skip hence,'" she muttered aloud. "No-
Oh, God-what's my first line? Kelley thought frantically.
"'These are the forgeries of jealousy.' Aw, crap!" She was blanking. "That's not even the right speech!" Her heart pounded in her chest, and she leaned her head on the door frame.
This is what you've wanted your whole life, she told herself sternly. All those years of putting on one-woman shows for the household pets, and all the months of begging Aunt Emma to let her move to Manhattan to try to make a go of it. This is it. Get out there and show them what you've got!
Feeling marginally more confident, Kelley took a deep breath and dashed down the hallway and through the backstage area-at the exact moment that "Puck" launched a handful of glitter into the air. Kelley gasped, startled, as the cloud of sparkles settled on her hair, face, and shoulders.
"Oh-thanks a lot, Bob," Kelley muttered, brushing at the shimmering dust as the eccentric actor laughed wickedly and darted toward the stage-left wings. It was futile-she was coated in glitter. "That's just super. I look like a disco ball." At least it matched her vintage My Little Pony Princess glitter T-shirt.
"Is she coming sometime today?" Kelley heard Quentin's irate tones echo through the theater and felt her nervousness come flooding back as she picked up her skirt and ran toward the stage.
Once there, Kelley discovered that under the lights the fairy dust was shiny to the point of blinding. Distracted, she found herself tripping over both the hem of her skirt and her lines. Her heart began to flutter in her chest as she heard the exaggerated groans and sighs of frustration coming from the darkened rows of seats, where the director sat watching her stumble around like an idiot.
After forty-five minutes they'd progressed only a little over a page into Titania's first appearance. Kelley had already managed to butcher half her lines, trip over a bench, and step on Oberon's foot. When she almost toppled off the stage and into the orchestra pit, Quentin called a merciful halt to the proceedings.
"Kelley. Your name is Kelley, isn't it?" He didn't wait for her confirmation. "Yes. Well. Tell me ... that bit just now ... was that from Dante's Inferno?"
"Uh ... no," Kelley stammered. Her face felt hot.
I'm in for it.
"Are you sure?" he continued. "Because it most certainly wasn't from this play. And it bloody well sounded like hell."
"You know ... as-well, let's face it, shall we?-as completely incompetent as our former diva may have been in this part"-Quentin sauntered up onto the stage, where he circled Kelley like a shark-"she did still have one tiny advantage over you, luv."
"She ... she did?"
"Of course she did. She knew the bloody lines!"
The entire cast took a step back to avoid the leading edge of Quentin's immediate blast radius.
Excerpted from Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston Copyright © 2008 by Lesley Livingston . Excerpted by permission.
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