Author: Laura Lam
Publication Date: 15. December 2016
Rating: 4/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT rep, PoC
TW: drug abuse, racism
Summary: Old magics are waking. But will the world survive their return?
Micah Grey almost died when he fled the circus with Drystan – now he and the ex-clown seek to outrun disaster. Drystan persuades his old friend Jasper Maske, a once-renowned magician, to take them in. But when he agrees to teach them his trade, Maske is challenged to the ultimate high-stakes duel by his embittered arch-nemesis.
Micah must perfect his skills of illusion, while navigating a tender new love. An investigator is also hunting the person he once seemed to be – a noble family’s runaway daughter. As the duel draws near, Micah increasingly suffers from visions showing him real magic and future terrors. Events that broke the ancient world are being replayed. But can Micah’s latent powers influence this deadly pattern?
The book picks right up where Pantomime left off. With Drystan and Micah being on the run from the circus and wanted for murder. So in addition to the Shadow, a mysterious hunter that was hired by an unknown party, tracking Micah, there are now also other people looking for them, making it impossible for them to find a job or leave the country. Thankfully they find an old friend of Drystan, the magician Maske, who takes them in and also teaches them his trade. Having been banned from magic after losing to his arch-nemesis Pen Taliensin, he accepts when a rematch is offered. But if they lose it will cost them everything they have trained so hard to achieve.
While this sequel is not that different from the first book, it definitely builds up a lot more. The world building improves a lot, we get more insight in the society of Ellada and its history. We learn that Micah is not the only person with special abilities. There are Chimera (creatures with magical powers, some of them look human, some of them… don’t) and Alder (god-like creatures from the past, who left the planet a long time ago, so there’s none of them left… right?). What I really loved was that while the Kedi are intersex chimera, it was explained that a) not all chimera are intersex and b) Micah being intersex is not the reason he’s a chimera. It took away from the magical-intersex-people thing the first book seemed to follow and it was definitely better than what I feared would happen.
There are a lot of other things going on in this book and I found it to be quite fast-paced. There were still a lot of flashbacks, but this time to ancient times long before Micah was even born. They helped a lot with the world building even though they felt a bit like info dumps sometimes. We also get to know a lot more about Drystan’s past. I definitely enjoyed this book a bit more than I did the first one, mostly because we get to know a lot more about the world Micah lives in.
Another thing I liked about the book was also that we were introduced to Cyan, which also keeps Micah a bit out of the limelight, giving him time to grieve his losses. Anyway Cyan grew up in the circus and she too has powers. More specifically she can read minds. Due to this Cyan and Micah bond quite fast and I love, love, love their relationship. Cyan is also a wonderful and loveable character, with an interesting past and a super interest story line. I also love how these three then work together.
There’s also Micah’s and Drystan’s blooming relationship is so sweet and amazing and I love them so much. Both of them deal with grief in this novel after what happened (Drystan also shows signs of PTSD) and while they are always there for each other and cling to each other, their problems are not solved by being in love. They have to deal with that a lot.
Just like the circus in the previous book, the magician story line in this book is amazingly well-developed and very interesting. I loved reading about Drystan and Micah learning how to do magic, starting with “simple” card tricks and ending in truly spectacular performances. And like I said Cyan definitely fit perfectly into their group and it showed all the time when they worked together, despite the mutual distrust in the beginning.
The political conflict that was hinted at in the first book also grows immensely in this story. The Foresters are tired of the huge class differences between the classes, the Twelve Trees and the monarchy, some of them owning villas with so many golden ornaments that you could feed entire districts with it while the poor people starve and the lower middle class only barely manages to survive. For now the protest are still pretty peaceful. The question remains: For how long?
And despite everything happening in the novel, Micah is never forgotten, his identity struggles are shown and thanks to him being very level-headed we are kept in the now-time despite all the visions and flashbacks. It could be very easy to forget about the characters in a story where there’s so much plot going on, but this doesn’t happen. Laura Lam seems to have a talent for writing compelling and interesting characters in whose heads I don’t mind spending hours and days.
Again the writing was beautiful, the characters were loveable, wonderful descriptions of everything and a bit better world building than the last book, but there are still so many questions left unanswered! But don’t fear, because the third book has just been published and I’m sure our questions will be answered!