My own unapologetic opinions on books and writing.
by Cornelia Grey
This is a very atmospheric story about a genuine magician who gets through life pulling cons and doing what people assume is stage magic, but is helped along by the real thing. One day he gets in trouble with his dodgy doings and is being chased by an angry mob, and in his attempts to get away, joins the Circus of the Damned.
There is an unnecessary amount of gratuitous swearing, but also a lot of action and I was pulled into the story quickly. It took me until chapter three to decide that I really didn't like the main character, Gilbert. He's arrogant and doesn't think, which is not a good recipe for a magician. You would expect him to at least be savvy enough to know what it means when he's offered a place in the circus and warned that it's forever. The word 'damned' might have tipped him off. But he proceeds to try to leave with no thought of the warnings he was given.
The circus is pretty weird and Gilbert, being bi-sexual, takes an interest in the MC who he finds attractive. There is a selection of interesting characters, though none I could identify with personally. The use of pronouns isn't always correct and it can get confusing to tell who is who, but it is imaginative and Gilbert sort of reminds me of the Artful Dodger with his street life background. There are some very funny moments, though the dialogue was flat at times.
About halfway through it begins to read like a m/m Romance novel, which would be okay, but there is some gratuitous sex in graphic detail that I felt was completely unnecessary. It crosses the line into porn and I find that inappropriate in books that are not sold as Erotica. It's suddenly inappropriate for young readers when there could have been a large audience for the book in the 12-18 range. The main characters were also inconsistent in their strength and weaknesses.
Apart from the fact that Gilbert is an idiot (to be fair, he progresses) and the intrusive porn, it's a good story with an interesting premise, is decently written, has some very imaginative performance scenes and has some poignant elements of love and sacrifice. The strong beginning was not really followed up by the last few chapters being as strong and the author doesn't seem to realize that smoke in a fire makes people choke and die, but overall it was an enjoyable story.