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.
I need to start this review by saying that I absolutely loved this book, I made myself read it slowly (something I find pretty hard to do) just so the experience would last longer. I know that we’re only a few weeks into January but I know this book is going to be a contender for a place on my Top Ten Reads of 2013 – I loved it that much. This should be an easy review to write in that case yes? No. I think this might be the trickiest review I’ve written in a long time, possibly ever. The very things that made me adore this book are the very things I don’t want to write about – I believe the experience of reading this book and the way the story unfolds need to be protected.
I loved the circus setting for the book, it’s described so well – as you’re reading you feel as though you’re actually sitting watching all the acts or walking through the carnival after the show. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, one of the reasons I forced myself to read more slowly and really soak it all in.
The book moves between Gene’s story and Micah’s story, the move between narratives never jars, and I found I was really interested in both stories so was always eager to read more of them both. There is a strong social structure in the world that provides the setting for the book, I found this really interesting particularly as Gene and Micah are at opposite ends of it.
The circus setting also makes for some really interesting characters, I found the whole structure of the company of performers and backstage members fascinating. I really enjoyed the interactions between Micah and his mentors – aerialists Arik and Aenea. In Gene’s story I enjoyed the time she spent with her brother and his friends, the bantery nature of her friendship with them was so well created.
The world that the book is set reminded me quite a bit of Victorian England, though it has magical elements that leave me finding it really hard to put a genre label onto the book. The mentions of the Vestige throughout the book, objects that have magical properties add a real sense of atmosphere to the book.
As soon as I finished reading this book I started talking to people about it, telling them about how I’d really loved it and that they just needed to read it. I think I’ll be doing this for a good few months to come which is good as it will help me pass the time whilst I’m waiting for the next book in the series!
Pantomime is published by Strange Chemistry in the UK from 7th February 2013. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.