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.
Now, the world of Pantomine seems a bit historical with the society rules and what not, mixed in with an old culture that still leaves it traces on the world in the form of Penglass domes, which are scattered around the cities. Made of magic and mysterious, because no one knows what is within them. Micah has some connection to the Penglass, hinting at his descent from the lost culture, and his origin was something not revealed until the end of the book. The other exotic cultures and the mythology are so enchanting, with the story of the Sun and the Moon particularly inspiring. The ending was shocking and full of twists, some heart-breaking ones too, and it makes me giddy with anticipation to pick up the sequel, which I will be doing right after this. An interesting protagonist, good world-building and excellent writing make this book a really good fantasy read.
What I loved most about the book is that it features an intersexed main character. In fact, I think that this is the first intersexed main character in a fantasy book ever. It was a character that was so well written and researched that this character never felt like it was a coarse stereotype. Micah/Gene was so wonderfully brought to life that I have nothing but praise for Lam. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Also, the cast of other characters featured characters that were gay, bisexual and straight – all of them being more than their sexual orientation.
Also, I liked that the book didn’t have a big GAY CHARACTERS WITHIN blurb. I have nothing against that, but I want unsuspecting straight readers to pick up books that have LGBT characters and not purposely avoid them. I think, well okay, I hope that we are beyond a time when readers need to be warned that they may be exposed to the GAY. However, I do agree with the criticisms about the blurb that make it sound like it romance between Gene & Micah.
However, the blurb isn’t the book and the book is wonderous and rich and should be pressed into the hands of everyone who loves a great fantasy novel. If these people are part of your family, this would make an excellent Xmas gift, especially when the sequel Shadowplay is being released in January. Speaking of the sequel, who do I need to beg for an advanced copy as I’m not sure I can wait until January.
ARC received from Strange Chemistry
Reviewed by: Middle Sis Jenn
After reading this book, I’m kind of stuck in limbo as to my impression of it. It was definitely the strangest book I have ever read; I’m just not sure if strange is for me or not.
So, I’ll start with the things I enjoyed. I loved the world in which Pantomime was set. It is an old world, full of superstitions and the briefest hint of magic. At one time, there were beings called Alders who were, essentially, like gods. They were beautiful and intelligent and strong, and most importantly, they were magical. However, at some time for some unexplained reason, the gods either left or died out. But, they left behind remnants and artifacts of their magic. These were the things that were so interesting in the book. I wish there would have been more because I just know that these Alders are going to play a role in the future books!
I also enjoyed seeing inside the world of the strange. The circus was fantastic—macabre yet beautiful. The inside look into the minds of these people was brilliant, and I found myself pleasantly surprised by how much I felt for them. I’ve always been a fan of the circus, and Pantomime allowed me to live it.
Now, what bothered me. First off, I felt there were way too many details. There were entire pages I skipped and never missed a single important detail. There was never a time when I had to go back and read what I skipped. That tells me that the book is too long, and it needed to be edited down. It was almost 400 pages, and I think it could have easily been in the 300 area. I might have had an easier time staying focused had it been shorter.
The thing that bothered me the most was that the blurb did not fit the book at all. I was under the impression that there was some sort of magic or evil that Micah and Gene were going to uncover, but there wasn’t anything like that, at least in this first book. (I think there might be more magic in the next one). Instead, it was focusing on Micah and Gene and their struggle to be comfortable in their own skin. It was more of a coming of age tale in the world of mystery and magic than it was anything else. The subject matter (which is a huge spoiler and I won’t say anything else) also bugged me. The sexual components of the story were awkward for me, as well. I’m not sure I would recommend it to many readers.
After looking at other reviews, many people loved it. I will admit it was unique and I have not read anything like it, but I’m afraid it ranked too far up on my weird-o-meter for me to truly enjoy it. With all that being said, I still find myself wanting to know what’s next. So, who knows, maybe after giving it some space, I will think definitely and look forward to the next book.