The circus may be loved or not – honestly I’m not a fan of the genre, maybe for the animal issue, maybe because clowns are creepy – but it is surely is an interesting setting for a novel.
I recently read 2 novels set in a circus, the former, “The night circus” by Erin Morgenstern is pure magic, consequently attractions are irreal and original, while the latter, “Pantomime” by Laura Lan, has the cirucs as a part of a more complex story (that developes in a series of novels). In this second case the circus is more similar to the ones we can find in reality: the commitment but also the multicultural society are well described.
Circus setting and description are better dealt with in “Pantomime”, the general plot and costruction of the novel are better in the “The night circus” (that also has a very nice cover).
The night circus by Erin Morgenstern
The night circus, a combination of wonderful exhibitions and artists, beyond imagination and physics.
A circus that is also a challenge, where two magicians confront themselves, Marco and Clelia, forced to the game by two ancient enchanters.
To the two the circus will be more than a game since it will bring them a family – a very peculiar one indeed -, love and the sensation of belonging to something beautiful.
A novel written with a fascinating and rich language as much as the settings: some tents are so wonderful it’s a pity they don’t exist.
The relation between the two main character is not trivial and the characters are well valued in their peculiarity; overall an interesting novel.
Pantomime by Laura Lam
Iphigenia Laurus, a noble girl, has to disguise herself as Micah Grey and to run from her family and her brother to avoid the terrible destiny awaiting her (come on, it’s not a spoiler, that the two are the same person is quite obvious).
Micah will find his place in a circus as a trapeze artist, due to his athletic skills, but he will have always to face suspicion and the fear of being chased.
The novel ends quite abruptly in an important scene, the plot will continue in the next novel, Shadowplay.
The strong point of this novel is the circus setting; it is described accurately and shows the reader the backstage of a known reality: the commitment but also the physical and psychological problems, the multiculturalism and the issues among people living and working always together.
The plot where the circus is wedged in, so the novel society, the Kedy gods etc… are less convincing, as it does not persuade me the psychological description of the main character (the context is different, but Middlesex deals way better the issue of a physical problem that results in a sexuality one). The novel end too suddenly: the story of the circus is done and who knows what awaits the reader.
* The night circus by Erin Morgenstern ★★★★☆
* Pantomime by Laura Lam ★★★☆☆
*I read this book in English