11 April 2014

Review: The Immortal Circus - A. R. Kahler

Imagine the world of The Night Circus, now update it to the present and instead of a fight between two wizards (or two young lovers) make it about an age-old battle between the fey courts of summer and winter. Add to that some murder, a dash of amnesia and a pinch of extremely binding contracts and you have got The Immortal Circus. In a word, it is awesome.

Vivienne joined the circus less than a month ago, and someone has been murdered. The worst part is that she appears to be the only suspect, and had absolutely no answer for it. It soon turns out that the entire circus is in jeopardy, under attack by the summer court, and now the secrets that Mab, the queen of the winter court, has been hiding will be let out.

The plot starts heavy, pulling you in from the first chapter with a gruesome murder juxtaposed by an unrequited love. So far, so good, and soon we realise that this murder was never supposed to happen; the circus really is immortal and the people in it are all magical. Well, everyone except Vivienne, it seems. However, Vivienne's amnesia also begins to gain your attention, and soon you begin to wonder if there is more to our protagonist than meets the eye as well, even if she doesn't know it yet.

As characters go, this book is really good at delivering. Vivienne is really easy to empathise with, even if her constant yearning for Kingston does grate from time to time. She is in the same boat as you, being dragged along by the current, and her reactions are precisely the kind of reactions any sane person might have. Well, nearly... I say this because I found that it was much too easy for her to accept that magical beings exist in the world, and her ability not to freak out is something most people decidedly lack. However, I think we'll get to know more about that side of her in the remaining two books, and to me, this wasn't as important as the plot was. Now Kingston, Mab and Lillith are the really interesting characters. They are so complex, and in-between the writings of the contracts forcing them not to say certain things, you can really see who they are, and who they have been striving to be, especially in the case of Kingston.

Sure enough when it all comes to a head there is an incredible crescendo. Vivienne's fragmented memories finally make sense, along with Mab's confusing actions and the riddle that is Lillith. A battle takes place that is unlike anything you were expecting, and all hell breaks loose.

If you want a quick but utterly enthralling read about a circus and the fantastical, this is the book for you. If you liked Wicked Lovely, this is also for you. Heck, if you like some action and a bit of romance with some paranormal stuck in, this is for you, too.

10 out of 10.