Pantomime by Laura Lam.
ARC, 392 pages.
To be published February 5, 2013.
Published by Strange Chemistry.
Source: Received review copy from the publisher. Thank you very much, Strange Chemistry!
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 wasn't sure what to expect going into this book but I was excited by the idea of a debut author and a circus. The premise sounded great so I was looking forward to giving the novel a go.
Am I ever glad I did.
This book was wonderful. The circus and the world of Ellada truly come alive. There were moments where I could really see the acts of the circus as they were performing. I was absolutely drawn in. I loved the diversity of Ellada and how there is a lot that is based in our reality and could be real in our world but that there is also the fantasy element with things related to the older, more mythical parts of the story's world.
The characters were incredible. I really felt something for each of the important ones. Micah has so many layers to him and really develops through the story. Gene is not at all what everyone wants her to be and struggles with coming to terms with that. Gene and Micah each hold a secret and maybe I should have guessed what they were, but when Gene's was revealed I was quite surprised. I really loved that the two back-and-forth narrators of the story were both so likeable and honest. I think my only issue was that I had trouble at times keeping track of all of the minor characters, like the lesser-used circus folk. However, they each did have something unique about them, so once I got a grasp on them all, I could remember.
While for the most part, the plot was not the most fast paced or action packed, it was engrossing nonetheless. There was a lot of amazing description and exploration of both the world and the characters' relationships which I found really drew me in. The story really picks up in the last 30 or so pages and it moved so quickly I was left speechless when I turned the last page. I really wished I could have stayed in the world of Pantomime for much longer.
I really wanted to read this one because ever since reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern I've been yearning for another amazing novel about a circus that truly enchanted me the way The Night Circus did. I hoped this would be it and while this one absolutely did enchant me, I can't compare it to Morgenstern's novel because they are so different. Pantomime is unlike anything else I've ever read. It takes character growth and the idea of discovering who you truly are and brings it to a level I have never seen before. It is a truly beautiful novel. I adored it. I'm so glad to hear that there is a sequel coming! I was left with a few questions and mysteries I hope are answered in it. It promises to be exciting!