Goodreads): R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.
But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
And here's what I thought: This is one of those reviews where I have to figure out how I can write it without giving away any spoilers. And believe me, it's tricky.
So let's see what I can do here. As you can see from the summary, we have two characters, a boy and a girl, whose stories are entwined. Actually, completely entwined. Gene struggles against what her noble family expects of her, and the role that she feels she cannot completely play. Micah joins the circus, unsure of what his place can turn out to be, and unsure of who he can trust.
The book has some twists to it that make it turn out to be something you might not expect. For example, you might think there is some romance in this story... and there is, although it's not between Gene and Micah. You might think there is a bit of fantasy here, and there is ... although it's not very well explained. For example, there is mention of "the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera" but not much else than the mention. It's the kind of story that isn't set in a particular time period that you can establish, and the world-building isn't complete enough that I could really imagine the setting, other than the circus, too well. But, if you think of the world of the book really being mostly the circus, itself, then I think it's a bit smoother.
The author has a descriptive writing style, and most of the time, I found I could imagine the various characters and settings. I've read enough nonfiction books about circuses that I felt I could imagine the circus, itself, as well as the performers.
However .... this is the kind of story that left me feeling perplexed at times. The flashbacks at times were confusing, because I felt they threw off the pace of the story. The author sometimes hints at things that then don't really come too much to fruition. I will say, the story did stick with me, mostly due to how the author handled Gene and Micah, and how unusual that pairing is. And, ok, that's probably as far as I can go without giving away anything.
The Book Smugglers wrote a great review of this --- and a much better review than I could write on this book.
I thought this was an interesting story, although I didn't feel it was a "must suggest" to everyone else as a good read. It kept me turning the pages, sometimes mostly out of curiosity, and I might just pick up the sequel when it eventually comes out.
First lines: "Well, boy," the ringmaster said. "What can you do?"
I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt. "Pardon?" I asked.
He chuckled. "Don't tell me you're simple. What can you do? Are you a fire-eater? An acrobat? A freak?"
I was a freak, but I could not tell him so.