Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I’m always intrigued by stories that use the circus as a backdrop and the author certainly created a uniquely interesting world that showed the dark side of that glittery arena.
One of the negatives for me is that there was A LOT of the author telling you stuff instead of letting the story and characters show you so it came off like I was being talked at rather than guided. I wanted more dialogue and action. There were also some questionable things like claiming kangaroos came from the Wilds of Africa – I couldn’t figure out if that was a typo that didn’t get caught or if the author really believes kangaroos come from Africa instead of Australia.
Of course it was hard when you got to parts that had the characters being made fun of by audience members so if you get triggered by people degrading others be prepared. Even if it was true to what happened during these type of circus events it still makes it hard to read about people using degrading insults and physically assaulting those who are different.
You do get a diverse and intriguing cast of characters so that helped take some of the annoyance out of the way the story is written as you become curious about them and how their lives are going to unfold. The author handled the lesbian relationship well so it felt realistic rather than something on display to gawk at.
In some ways it felt more like an anthology of stories as you get chapters focusing on different characters such as Arnold, Daniel, Madame Barbue, Magnus, Ramus and more. You get their backstories all the while the author keeps weaving Olympia’s story in between.
A huge positive for me was showing how everyone, no matter how different, has a place and purpose in this world. Rather than judge and demean those who are not like you we should embrace and celebrate what each has to offer so we can make this a more magical world.
Thank you to Netgalley and Interlude Press for allowing me to review this!
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