PUBLISHER: Strange Chemistry
RELEASE DATE: 7th February 2013
FORMAT: EBook, 416 pages
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult
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. (Goodreads)
Have you ever felt that you don’t fit in or accepted for who you are? I’m sure the majority of you have felt that way at some point in your life, especially during your young adult years. Pantomime is a daring YA fantasy that focuses on finding out who you are and finding acceptance in a world where you are different.
I must admit that when picking up and starting Pantomime I was expecting another version of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Rebecca’s review). My presumption was soon proved incorrect, yes there was more to the circus than normal people realised but it was more to do with sleight of hand and deception rather than magic.
Pantomime’s chapters are split into past and present as we follow the lives of Iphigenia or Gene and Micah. Gene is a young woman of nobility who is uncomfortable in her skin preferring boys rough and tumble play and male company to that of a normal noble girl’s life. Whereas, Micah is a young man who has run away from his life to try and find acceptance in a world that fails to understand anything that is different from the norm.
Written from the point of view of the main protagonists, the past chapters focuses on Gene, while the future chapters focuses on Micah. Lam’s writing flowed well, enabling you to understand the thoughts, feeling and personality of both Gene and Micah, connecting to them easily and becoming emotionally involved with the story. This for me is an important aspect to my reading as I love to feel as if I’m part of the story rather than a spectator.
The world Lam creates is a vivid, intriguing culture that in some ways is failing, full of myths and legends and a lost civilization that involve Gene/Micah more than they realise. There is loads of this world yet to be revealed, leaving you with questions that hopefully will be answered in the next book.
After reading Pantomime, I was excited to write my review, there are some reviews that write themselves and others that are painstaking difficult to put together. There were so many exciting twists and the plot was different to what I was expecting. The part that connects Gene and Micah is so glaringly obvious I doubt that I would ruin the book if I mentioned it and without that aspect of the book I don’t have an awful lot to discuss.
As Lam didn’t state the obvious twist in her premise, I’ll respect her decision and try to keep the spoiler to a minimum. It’s this unspeakable part that makes this book stand out from anything else I’ve ever read in the YA market.
I loved the way Lam incorporates issues with body image and sexuality, making friendships and standing up to bullies despite the terrible tricks they play on you.
It was just a prank. I would not let them win. I thought that the pranks could not get any worse. I was just as naïve as I had been my first night on the streets after running away.
Micah has run away from a life that he is unhappy with, hoping to fit in at the circus. At the circus, despite the cruel pranks, Micah has never felt more himself, with a romance blossoming with his aerialist partner Aenea, Micah begins to feel more at home than ever before.
Micah is keeping a huge secret though and will Aenea be able to forgive him if she were to find out?
There is one person in the circus that has guessed part of Micah’s secret, whom Micah is more open with, the white clown, Drystan. Drystan and Micah come from a similar background and I enjoyed how their relationship grows along with their trust.
“What is your biggest fear?” he asked.
I was quiet, thinking. There were so many things I was frightened of. “Not being accepted or loved for what – who – I am.”
Drysran again noticed the slip but did not comment. “Does no one accept you?”
“That’s two questions. My brother does.”
“What, are you lonely, Micah?”
His question took me aback. “Yes, sometimes. Aren’t most people?”
Drystan became less obtuse around me after that, shedding his persona of the odd, mystic fool and showing the human beneath. But when I looked up at him through lowered lashes and saw him watching me, I still felt a little thrill.
The issues Pantomime covers are done tastefully, mostly within the confines of the circus, as the circus’ season comes to an end, they need to make more money and so they add in a pantomime to encourage the rich to attend.
It’s in this pantomime we see Micah stand out for the unique character that he is, dressing up as a heroine. Secrets never stay hidden for long and Micah has now found himself in the spot-light, will his past catch-up with him and hurt the few people who have become important to him?
The pace is at times slow although well written and thought provoking, you will find yourself at the end of the book before you are ready and left screaming out for the next book in the Micah Grey Series.
Pick up Pantomime, it’s the best book I have read in a while and very close to my first 5 star review, the only thing that let me down at times was the pacing. A wonderful YA fantasy that address issues of sexuality in ways that I haven’t seen before. It’s a magical tale of accepting who you are, overcoming bullies and finding a place where you fit in. I loved Gene/Micah strength, although I was not comfortable with keeping something of a great importance, secret from someone who you supposedly love. A fantastic début novel, full of surprise twists, especially towards the end and I’m greatly anticipating the sequel, especially as I hate being left with a cliff-hanger. Definitely one of those books that stay with you long after you put it down.
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