My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Synopsis from 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
Pantomime is a bold and freshly different YA debut by Laura Lam. I was completely absorbed by this book, and gripped by the story- which I thought was so clever and extremely moving.
I don't want to give away too much about what this story is about- as it is such a unique and surprising concept, and you really should go into it blind and experience it for yourself! Which makes writing this review extremely difficult! But here are some adjectives- mystical, tense, unique, strange, fascinating, and enchanting.
This is a coming of age/ being true to yourself tale about a young character who runs away to join the circus. There is a twist in the tale that you wouldn't expect, making Pantomime one of those rare amazing books that is captivating and exciting, and I think it's just genius.
Set in the fictional fantasy world of Ellada- it feels like a whole other time and place- but with the attitudes and outlook similar to Victorian England in terms of clothes, traditions and values. But we are also introduced to a world where the old gods are myth and legend, and the Chimaera (the old inhabitants of the world) have left their curious and mystical relics behind.
This gives the book an air of mystery and magic and possibility. There is also a constant undercurrent of tension and danger, as Micah lives in constant fear of being discovered. This is a dark and gritty world, but the mix of fantasy and historical really works.
I loved the descriptions of life in the circus, all the oddball characters, and the contrast between the circus, and flashbacks to Micah's old life. There is magic, relatable characters, hardship, and romance. This is a stunningly beautiful book and one that I highly recommend and will definitely re-read.