The first time EVER that I actually get an ARC in my hands before anyone on the kidlit webasphere has blogged about it and it takes me a month and a half to sit down and do anything. I’m pretty disappointed in myself. The fall is always a crazy time of year at my non-profit because I’m hopping from one school to another, matching volunteers and kids, and pretty much people pleasing 24/7 but I love my blog. So why do I neglect it so?
Let me set the scene: Two children are each raised separately by magicians (for lack of a better term) and as they reach adulthood they are placed in a cruel competition disguised as a black and white outfitted circus. Of course, they fall in love (like ya do) and things get lovely as (spoiler) the circus develops into physical love letters that they create for each other. But we have all heard this story before so it’s not surprising when things get complicated and exquisitely dark.
In fact, the book is always playing with the contrasts of the world. It constructs that within every characteristic, every location, every individual action there is the juxtaposition of beauty and cruelty. Harnessing magic is a freeing and always expanding art but within those freedoms there are sacrifices. The circus itself is a stunning experience full of wonder and joy for those who visit and everyone involved but it is also limited, cut off, and the setting of a duel that can only end in destruction. Even the boy who falls in love with the circus sees the positives and negatives of his small town.
It is no surprise that the landscape of this novel is a world of black and white for it spends a great deal of its time showing the many layers that are hard to see in between.