Magic, circus, duel
What I thought:
Do you believe in magic? You might just do after reading this book.
The hype for this book has been everywhere: if you’ve missed it you have possibly been under a rock for the past few months. Normally, if a book has SO much hype I give it a wide berth until it has all died down so that I can read it and savour it on my own but this one had me so intrigued and convinced that I would love it that I was itching to read it. Magic and Victorians, I thought; what’s not to love?
Unfortunately quite a lot. Despite loving parts of it, most of it left me hugely underwhelmed. OK, so let’s talk about what I liked about it first: the images created from this book were vivid – the costumes and the settings were largely well written and I could see them easily in my head. Infact, one thing that I loved was that several years ago I had visited the Cirque du Soleil and I remember a really heady smell of powder and costume paint in the tent, and reading this book managed to evoke that sense again which made me smile. I loved the tents and what was in them – acrobatic kittens, snowy wonderlands, the labarynth eating caramel and chocolate popcorn. I also loved the tent where whenever you took the lid of a random bottle you were transported to somewhere else, comeplete with smells and taste: it reminded me of what I love about books – you get so emersed in another world that it’s often a surprise to look up and realise that you are still in your front room.
Now on to what didn’t work for me: I never felt like I got to know any of the characters well enough; there were too many and none of them felt fully fleshed out to me. The books blurb has us believe that there is some epic battle of wits and skill between the two young aprentices, Celia and Marco who are pitted against each other in a battle to the end, despite them falling in love. I never bought their relationship at all – it came out of nowhere and it would be months, even years, between them seeing each other for only a few hours. Where was the passion or the tenderness or the longing to be together? It was the most understated relationship I have ever read about. Also, this epic battle that is eluded to in the blurb is hardly that – infact it takes about 20 years; the pacing was way off to make it in any way exciting or intriguing.
Verdict: For me, this was definitely a case of style over execution. The plot felt weak. The visuals were good but the plot was more of a whimper than a bang and I found myself rushing it in the hope of getting to the end and being rewarded which I never felt I was. It’s a shame – I wanted to love it but I really didn’t.
Have you read this book? Most people seem to have loved it – did you?