Wednesday 25 September 2013

YA REVIEW - 'Pantomime', Laura Lam (Strange Chemistry, 2013)

R. H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass—remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone—are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide. 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. (Synopsis from Goodreads)

Pantomime (Pantomime, #1)Oh my, oh my. I remember reading a lot of glowing reviews about this one when it was first released so I feel rather stupid for only getting around to picking it up now. I've recently been in one of those mini-reading slumps. My current book was dragging me down. You know when you're ploughing your way through but really not enjoying it and every time you pretend you haven't seen it lying around, waiting to be finished, the guilt eats away at you as you reach over for the remote control and watch some mind numbing sitcom repeat that you could recite in your sleep because you've seen it so many times before?

Yeah that. This state of affairs scares me. It makes me think that I'm going off books. It makes reading feel like a chore. It is a bad business.

Which is why I chose to jump ship and start something completely different. And this one could definitely be filed under different. Or unique. Or unlike anything I've read before.You get the idea.

It's pretty special.

I'm the first to admit that I struggle with fantasy sometimes. I think it's a time thing - with books that paint a particularly strong picture, I need to be completely absorbed  fairly early on so they give me absolutely no choice - I HAVE to ignore everything else -  until I've turned the last page. Otherwise it's just not happening. I have distractions (kids etc), that will pull me off the sofa and then my relationship with that book will never be the same again and we'll probably revert to the state of affairs detailed above.

Hello book slump.

But you might have already guessed that this didn't happen with Pantomime. As well as reading those great reviews a few months back, I was also reminded about this title when I went to a seminar on LGBT characters and themes in YA. I'm afraid on this particular subject, that's all I'm going to say in relation to this book for fear of the spoiler demon striking me down with a bolt of lightening, but I can tell you that it not only manages to portray this issue in a non 'issuey' way but also does something completely unique with it.

I can't really say much else about the story - the synopsis above does a much better job of it than my garbled attempt would - but as with any book that I adore, it's the writing and the characters that are pretty much perfect here. The stories and journeys of Micah and Gene are moving, intriguing, passionate, teaming with sexual tension and heartbreaking in the best and worst possible ways. The world of the circus and Ellada is rich with gorgeous imagery, detail and intriguing supporting characters and it's one I can't wait to get back to when the sequel comes out next year.

So put aside your life for a bit and get taken over.


  1. YAY! I'm so glad you loved this one, Anna. I loved it too. It is pretty special. I keep recommending it to people to read...

    1. That it is! Thinking of buying a few copies for Christmas presents already...