THE NIGHT CIRCUS
A black and white circus only open at night; tents and performances that blend the extraordinary with the real; an exhibition competition displayed for all the world to see. Those are the heart and soul of The Night Circus.
From a very young age, both Celia Bowen and Marco have been chosen to be the competitors in a dangerous game involving manipulation and enchantment. They train in vastly different methods under completely different teachers until the venue for their competition is set. From there, their battle spans years and continents and involves more and more people who have come to love the circus as their own. And in the process, the two are drawn to one another.
This tale is told magically, with prose that takes you on a journey through this circus, describing in intricate detail the tents, the performers, the manipulated elements that astound and spark excitement. There is love invested in these details that bring this setting to life, moreso than even the characters that walk and live and love among the black and white tents.
While there is a large cast, this is not a character story. Though there is romance, it is quick and distant rather than intimate. The mystery of The Night Circus is less mystery than it is mystical, with us along for the ride to discover just what might happen to all the people who have become intertwined with the venue.
This is, first and foremost, a story about a circus, and the love one has for that own special place filled with the people we care about most. I’d recommend this story for those needing to be stolen away to a place of wonder, for those wanting to enjoy the reading more than getting to the end of the journey. For those who love circuses and for those who don’t, but would love the chance to fall in love with one anyway.
SORCERY OF THORNS
Books about books are always fun, particularly when those books sing and bite and tell on little girls who aren’t where they should be.
This is a tale about Elisabeth, a young woman who grew up in one of the Great Libraries and was taught how to care for the books within. When a visit from a sorcerer and a subsequent attack leaves a dangerous grimoire stolen, Elizabeth finds herself being dragged to the capital and put on a path to solve the mystery of the sabotage and thievery before the Great Libraries fall to a power beyond imagining.
The cast is rounded out by a somewhat-friendly demon, who likes to turn into a cat, and a young sorcerer, who is somehow even less friendly. The story is engaging and quick, adventurous and fun, perfect for anyone looking for a light romp that takes them through magical libraries we all wish we had grown up within ourselves.
A DEADLY EDUCATION
This novel is what you get when you mix Hunger Games and Harry Potter together. In fact, I could easily imagine that as the actual pitch for A Deadly Education. So if that combination sounds fascinating to you, you will likely enjoy this one!
The protagonist of this book, Galadriel (or El for short), is a student in a deadly, underground school where all the lessons are taught without teachers and monsters literally crawl up from cracks and lower floors in an attempt to eat the students who radiate power and magic. The students band together in alliance groups resembling raiding guilds or fellowships in order to have the power needed to survive their graduation day—when they’ll be forced to fight their way free from the school.
The writing style is a little more YA than Novik’s previous books, a style more in-line with recent series that have been incredibly popular. This comes from the easy, chatty first person point-of-view, her limited scope, and occasional unreliability as she views herself as a loner in the beginning and has to learn to truly understand the other students around her. There’s a lot of coming to terms with reaching out socially, seeking help when needed, as well as being willing to give of oneself in order to help the group as a whole in order to see wider success.
Please Note: there was some controversy over the use of the word dreadlocks in relation to being dirty and this is most definitely a line that is unsightly in the novel, however, the author has come out with an apology and future runs will not have the comment.
THE LAST SMILE IN SUNDER CITY
Want a little noir in your urban fantasy detective fiction? How about a lack of magic in your fantasy? In Sunder City, we have a bleak protagonist by the name of Fetch who doesn’t work for humans and, quite frankly, isn’t the best at taking care of himself either. But some of that is to be expected given his history and the recent destruction of all magic. Creatures and races that had once flourished have now become frail echoes of what they’d once been. The world has been upset in an awful fashion and Fetch is just doing what he can to help, even when nursing hangovers.
This novel is told in a present timeline with Fetch being hired to investigate a disappearance. As he goes about his investigation, the reader is treated to snippets of his history, of the world Fetch had lived in before the magic had been erased from existence. There’s a real loss of hope in this novel, a sinking feeling that permeates you as you read, a sense that no matter what Fetch does, it won’t make much difference, not to the people who need it most.
And yet, this isn’t a hopeless story, because Fetch is still going, still moving forward in the only way he knows how. And the rest of Sunder City is doing the same, some more successfully than others. You discover the answer to a couple mysteries by the end of this novel. You also get a beautiful sense that things can get better, that no matter how bad the world is, there are always ways to change the narrative, change the scene and move forward.
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Tagged adventure fantasy, book, detective, fantasy, fiction, luke arnold, noir, novel, prose, reading, urban fantasy