My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Published: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Dial Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Magic, Fantasy, Family
Do you believe in magic? Micah Tuttle does. Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
Let me start by telling you that this is in no way similar to The Night Circus.
Sure, in both works, there are circuses. But are there, really? This circus is just a word, just a place, just an idea.
It’s not a setting, a home, a developed concept. I can’t tell you much of what happens at this circus, because the characters are more important than the backdrop.
Which, in this case, is a shame, because there is nothing memorable about the characters. Either they are one-dimensional, or they lack unique qualities. Their ways of behaving and thinking are in no way interesting and rarely easy to connect to.
I’ll give credit where it’s due: the grandfather is quite endearing. He is wise and surprising. Too bad there is only so much he adds to the story. And when I say the ‘‘grandfather,’’ I mean the grandfather, not his younger self.
See, the chapters alternate between past and present. In my opinion, the past was not necessary, seeing that we already have the grandfather, who could have as easily talked about his experience discovering the circus. We didn’t need to actually follow him as he makes his way to the circus and everything, especially since it is sometimes a disruption in the storyline.
But the writing IS good, and I do like the concept. I don’t know a lot of books with characters that are focused on finding a way to keep a family member from dying, so I sure thought Micah’s intentions were noble, as were his grandfather’s.
It’s just… all over the place. Different, but not addictive. I also disliked how all the female characters were either dead, bitchy or manipulative. Very disappointing.
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