Monday, 23 June 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - Pantomime and Shadowplay by Laura Lam

Pantomime (Pantomime, #1) 
R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilization 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 started reading Pantomime intending to read only a few chapters, but before I knew it, it was two in the morning! This stunning, magical Victorian-esque novel drew me in from the start. Laura Lam has created a rich and fascinating fantasy world, and the two alternating perspectives keep the pace moving smoothly. But it’s the characters, especially Gene and Micah, who makes the story truly compelling.

I love all the worldbuilding snippets and hints about the world of Ellada, but I also liked that so many elements are still shrouded in mystery – I’m looking forward to learning more about the Vestige and the Penglass in the sequel! This is a genuinely unique read, different to any other YA or fantasy book I’ve read, and fortunately I already have Shadowplay to read on my Kindle!

Rating: *****

Shadowplay (Pantomime, #2)
 The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates.

People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

 Like Pantomime, Shadowplay gripped me from the first page. This sequel certainly doesn't falter, picking up immediately where the first book left off, with Micah and Drystan on the run. They go into hiding with a magician, Jasper Maske, whose bitter rivalry with another magician cost him his career. There's also a girl, Cyan, who's hiding at least as many secrets as Micah and Drystan are. Even without the circus setting of the first book, there's plenty of magic in the story.

 There's a real sense that author Laura Lam is gradually pulling back the curtain to reveal more of this fascinating world, and I love the snippets we get throughout the story which gain significance later on. Magical duels, unique ideas, and complex, flawed characters - I can't recommend this series enough!

Rating: *****

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