This book has been on my radar for quite some time. I checked it out of the library before, but I always had to return it before I got around to reading it. So, I finally decided to stop checking out so many books and put this on top of the to read in 2011 list. City of Masks jumps between 21st-century London and 16th-century Belleza. In modern London, Lucien is diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. When Lucien finds a old notebook, he is suddenly transported to Belleza in his sleep. There, he is unburden of the disease and the picture of perfect health. As he explores the wonders of Belleza, he learns that he is a Stravangante - a person who can travel between both worlds. But, there is a faction that would use that power for personal gain and Lucien is about to get caught in the middle of it all. Mary Hoffman built a fascinating Belleza with descriptions of the lagoons, cathedrals and cityscape that brings the city to life. It is simply great armchair travel. I had a great time trying to find the parallels to Venice. In Belleza, they have the Bridge of Sorrow instead of the Bridge of Sighs. Talia's capital is Remora because Remus instead of Romulus founded the state. And much more. Lucien and Arianna are likable characters. Arianna especially with her views of equal rights for women. Some of the plot points are predictable, but the characters and adventures make it a fun read. I would recommend this to younger readers, probably between the ages of 9 - 15. And for those who like a series, this is the first of five (at the moment).