I love reading more than just about anything else and can't wait to share my views with you.
This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Jules Maroni has been training and performing as a wire walker her entire life. Her father is the world's best and she desperately wants to follow in his footsteps. When the Maroni's are offered a spot in the new Cirque American, she knows all her dreams are about to come true. But the Flying Garcia's, a rival family of trapeze artists have her grandmother worried that old rumors and bad accidents will occur. Jules thinks she is being superstitious until a bad luck charm ends up on her costume and almost makes her fall. Forced to consider the impossible, she confides in the most unlikely ally, Remy Garcia. They are supposed to be mortal enemies, but he is the only one who can help and together they are determined to find out who is behind the pranks. Can they unlock the mystery before it's too late?
Jules is someone I envy greatly. To have the guts and the courage to step out onto a wire is an awesome thing. I've never been scared of heights, but some of the things she does terrifies even me. I'm sure training from an early age does a lot to eradicate some of that fear, but just reading about her stunts gave me chills. I loved reading about how close-knit this family was. We get a lot of dysfunctional families in YA (and especially in NA), but even though we see a bit of tension, Jules' loves her family and they love her. It was also nice to see a family who knew how to trust their teenager. Mom and Dad don't try to lock her up in an ivory tower to keep her out of trouble. Instead, they believe her when she claims to be ready for her outdoor walks and they trust her to keep herself out of trouble. Want to know something else I loved? She's flawed. She's not perfect. Things happen and she reacts the best she can, but it's not always the right answer.
Remy is the opposite of a lady's man. He stays focused on his act and doesn't mess around. He could easily live up that Romeo image because he has the looks and the body to go with it, but he doesn't. He plays it off. He's such a sweet guy and I loved that he didn't spend every moment chasing after women. He is also dedicated to his family. Things with his mom are rocky, but his siblings are everything to him. He spends a great deal of time with them, practicing their act, trying to get things right. It's hard to really articulate what I loved about him. He's so different from your typical YA male that I can't even make a comparison.
All the other characters were memorable and lovable, especially Dita and Sam. They each bring something new and interesting to the table. Maybe they all fascinated me because I love reading about circuses and the people who make them come to life, but either way, I loved them all. I just think circuses are so interesting. These people work and sweat and work on their craft when their craft is some crazy feat of strength or endurance or balance. The amount of practice and training that goes into wire walking or trapeze or animal training is so extensive that I cannot even begin to fathom it. Remy spends his nights in the big tent trying and trying to make a quad happen. Several hours every single night, on top of his daily practices with his siblings. That kind of determination just astounds me.
Plot-wise, this gets even more kudos from me because I didn't see the bad guy coming. I had it pegged as someone completely different. It makes complete sense, once it's all revealed, so maybe I should have seen it coming. The whole mystery unfolds beautifully. Bond manages to balance the perfect amount of mystery and romance in this magical story.
There was only really one issue. There is a death, a very depressing death. From a logical stand-point, I understand the death. I know it was necessary. I completely get that it was the only way to push the story in the direction it needed to go and to truly get Jules to believe in magic. I get that, but that doesn't make me any less sad. That doesn't make my tears any less real. On that front, the death accomplished it's job to make me feel beautifully because I did and I do and even writing this now, I'm tearing up. It's such a tragic one and it effects so many people and...just damn. Considering I gave Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep a one star rating due to an animal death (a bit extreme, but it really really upset me), knocking off half a star for this traumatic death isn't that bad. I still kinda feel bad, but I try to be as honest as possible.
Besides the death, I loved everything about this. I love the setting, I love the characters, I love the mysterious plot, I love the lure, and I especially love the cover. It's completely perfect for this book. It's hard to find a good circus tale. I feel like everyone is fascinated by them, but few authors broach the subject. I don't know why that is exactly, but I know I have only read a handful of novels on the subject and they have all been spectacular. This goes right up there with Water For Elephants for me, maybe even a notch higher. Gwenda has a way of writing that captivates you from the moment you start the novel. Her book is fascinating enough that I ignored what I should have been reading all week to finish this. It was entirely worth it. If you are interested in circus lore, getting behind of the eyes of a fearless heroine, or are just looking for something a little different than what you've read before, this is the book for you!