Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.
I'm just trying to light up the world as much as I can one SciFi/paranormal/fantasy/space opera/time travel book at a time.
This book started off in a totally different direction than what I expected and that worried me. It turns out that I worried for no reason because once I settled into the story, I was hooked.
I am a huge fan of Circus novels... doubly so when they are paranormal or occult in nature. This book was both and more. Not only did it have a magical, demonic circus from Hell... it also had anxiety inducing life or death events, a perilous romp through the streets (and ages) of Paris, familial drama and maybe the most imaginative and tempting depiction of Hell (as seen through the windows of the circus and by the Ferris Wheel trip slowly descending down... down... down). We get all of this plus fierce, bad ass female characters and the men who love them.
Then there were disappearances, intrigue, a treasure hunt (of sorts), personal quests, devious machinations and MUUUUURDER... dum dum dum... Watching it all unfurl and then coalesce was both gratifying and exciting. How each factor (and tidbit) was teasingly doled out led to an addictive need to know more as well as setting a well honed pace.
Sounds awesome right?? There's more...
There's MAGIC. The Magic System was not (and need not be) explained to us in detail... it was pretty straightforward, standard fare. High ranking demon passes on special powers to his daughters... his magically mischievous progeny perform in & are irrevocably linked to this scintillating circus for time immemorial. There was a (super) tame love making scene as well as (numerous) intimated
risqué trysts. There was betrayal, a slight love triangle (if pining over a missing or possibly dead fiancé could be considered one leg of a triangle) and then a cool magical showdown at the end.
The premise sounds both unique and intriguing right?? Yes and Yes!! It was also raw, tangible, rife with possibility... oddities... and filled with varying types of Love. There was the love between Parent & Child, sibling love, love of the Arts, carnal love and (of course) the most important kind of love... love for oneself.
Onto the Trifecta of Awesomeness:
Writing + Character Development + World Building:
The Writing was not too flowery nor bland or curt... it was in that ever elusive Goldilocks zone. It was just right.
There were a few interesting M.Knight Shyamalan bits that blindsided me. Better sleuths than I will most likely be able to suss out some of the twisty turns early on but I think there might be at least one in there that will have them caught off guard and reeling.
The characters: primary, secondary and even tertiary, were compelling and expressive.
The entire magical lineage was a conga line of gifted, kick ass females starting with twins Cecile (the favorite, sweet and slightly naive) and Esme (super strong and a tad touched in the head). They were never supposed to have survived their birth but SURPRISE... out popped the super close, twin female Hellians. Every woman, through the generations, found that their destiny/Fates were entwined with tangled roots, securely fastening their futures to their demonic progenitor and his super mysterious and exclusive playground of misfits. The imprisioned and tormented souls that performed were just trying to serve out their macabre scentences and then BAM!! They became babysitters for their boss's audaciously unrepentant offspring.
The World Building's grunt work was seemingly precise and exhaustively researched. The depiction of Paris's two very different eras was both rich and lush. I swore I could see it all play out, in glorious 4K High Definition, in my mind. Since I have never had the pleasure of seeing Paris firsthand, I was incredibly impressed by Mrs. Sayer's ability to paint an eloquent and vivid mental image.
It was grand yet subtle as to avoid clubbing you over the head and force feeding you info dumppy fodder. WHICH is never fun to swallow nor appreciated (yet is usually tolerated) by this ever evolving bibliophile's taste buds.
I was wholeheartedly addicted to this story... it was unputdownable. I just needed to know more and more and more and... oops, it's dawn and I'm only 80 pages from the end... might as well stay up and finish the rest. As a result I ended up being bleary-eyed, hangry and (until the coffee kicked in) a bit of a snippy Grump BUT it was worth it because things felt complete... all was right in the world (sans pandemic) knowing where everyone ended up.
I could easily picture myself giving up (almost) anything just to be allowed to visit, play and/or perform within its wickedly delicious, seductive sanctum. It was so attractive a read that I am admittedly looking forward to reading book #2.
*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***