Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Ladies of the Secret Circus Review

Hello, all!

Last year, I read A Witch in Time by Constance Sayers and really enjoyed it (review here), so I was eager to jump into her newest release, The Ladies of the Secret Circus. Big thank you to the publisher for the copy!

Pub Date: 3-23-21
Adult - Historical Fiction/Fantasy

There are plenty of ways to entertain yourself in 1920s Paris, but they all pale in comparison to the circus. To receive a ticket to the famed Secret Circus is to open a door to an entirely different world than our own. Here you'll see acts that defy imagination: from carousels that take you back in time to trapeze artists that seemingly float through the air. Cecile Cabot has spent her entire life bound to her father's mysterious circus, only allowed out for certain amounts of time along with her twin sister and best friend. The circus is all Cecile has ever known, but when she meets a charming young artist, she begins to wonder if there could be more for her out in the real world. The pair enter into a passionate affair, and while Cecile may be blissfully happy, she soon finds that joy comes with severe consequences.

In Virginia, 2004, Lara Barnes is getting ready to marry the love of her life, but her excitement soon turns to heartbreak when her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day. Despite many search attempts, it's as if he disappeared right into thin air. When a strange man appears to Lara with information, she begins an investigation which leads her to her great-grandmother Cecile's journals. Here she discovers the strange history of her family and their relationship to a dark circus that has been claiming payment from all the women in her family for generations. Lara has always known her family was different from others, but it will take all of her might and powers beyond her measure to break the curse before it's too late.

For whatever reason, I'm drawn to stories that take place in the circus so this immediately caught my eye. I loved the premise of this dark twisted circus and a curse that's been plaguing a family for generations, but I found the execution lacking a bit. The first half was very hard to get into and a little confusing due to all the time jumps that were spliced in. It felt like I couldn't get my bearings and it was difficult to figure out what was actually happening. Midway through, I felt the story hit its stride and I started to enjoy it a lot more. The writing felt more cohesive and less clunky. I liked learning more about Lara and her family and how they tied in with this Hell circus. The mystery of the curse itself was well done and there were a few twists I wasn't expecting. Overall, I thought this was very atmospheric, I just wish the first half was as strong as the second.

Rating: 3/5