Tuesday 6 November 2012

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Image from Goodreads
Pages 392
Published by Strange Chemistry on 5th February 2013
'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?'
Goodreads Summary
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.
This book is a gift wrapped mystery. The more you delve into the layers, the more surprises you discover. To the point, where on finishing the book, I just sat back feeling quite blown away. At first I was convinced I was reading a book to rival Night Circus, but this book is far too unique to be compared to any other. It is set in a circus, but one reminiscent of the grand circuses of the past, adding a hint of Water for Elephants to the flavour of it.
Circus life is hard and the author expresses that so well through her words. Even though the circus is set in a fantasy world reminiscent of our Victorian era, yet I believe it is set in the future, due to the magical qualities of certain coveted artifacts. It could almost be steam punk, but something I can't put my finger on stops me from labelling it that. 
This book contains a whopping secret that makes it really difficult to review. A secret that is not obvious at all until you trip over it, and yet on flicking back through the pages hints were there, I just didn't see them.
The characters are quirky, yet vibrant, each setting fire to the page as the somersaulted through the book.
Micah will astound you and grab your heart from the start. I don't think I have met a character so complex and unique as Micah. The relationship between Micah, Aenea and Drystan is extremely absorbing and very well written. Through the progression of time, you find yourself drawn into their lives in the circus as they revolve and circle each other through different situations.
At times the story leaves you breathless, as the plot twirls you through the air at top speed. Other times you are able to stand back and reflect on everything that occurs. 
Even though this book is high fantasy, it does deal with some strong themes. Sexuality and relationships play  huge part as the story unravels. 
This truly is an  awe inspiring read, that left me breathless and desperate for more.   A unique reading experience from a very talented debut author. 


  1. I don't read High Fantasy or Fantasy at all really (it's just not my thing), but I am kind of intrigued by this one. I want to know what the big secret is!!

    1. This isn't Harry-Potter-style spellslinging fantasy - it's a world that's not our own, with some hints of ancient lost technologies that could be mistaken for magic (in accordance with Clarke's Law). I agree with Vivienne - it feels almost like another planet rather than a standard fantasy world!

      I was lucky enough to beta-read this book when it was under consideration by Angry Robot and Strange Chemistry - so happy to see it reach a wider audience :)

  2. Wow, I want to read this ... now! I will be buying a copy! Great review :)

  3. Youre review is brilliant Viv, I adored this one too and am dying to get round to my copy of Night Circus now too!

  4. I loved this book too - just finished reading and I'm missing the characters and the world of Ellada!


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