Friday, February 15, 2013

Pantomime by Laura Lam

Iphigenia Laurus - Gene for short - was raised the daughter of a wealthy family in Sicion. But while she's been taught to be a respectable young lady, she longs for something more. Things come to a head for Gene and she's left with seemingly no choice but to run away and attempt to make a new life for herself. As Micah Grey, Gene tries out and is hired on to train and work with the R.H. Ragona Circus of Magic. Amongst the performers and freaks, Gene finally feels like she belongs. And as Micah, she can start over in a place where no one knows her. But Micah/Gene is hiding something more than her background and Shadows have been enlisted to track her down. 

I've seen this book handled two ways -- overtly secretive and tell all. I'm going to try and balance my review a bit. I find overtly secretive very difficult to do but I was able to go into the book with very little expectation and enjoyed it all the more for that. I'd love for everyone to be able to approach the book the same way (and find it's pretty rewarding to approach most reads that way).

First let me say that sizing this book up in a generalized synopsis tough! Much has been made of the twist and I'm not going to reveal what it is. I don't feel bad in outright saying that Micah and Gene are the same person, however, as that becomes greatly clear in the beginning of the book. To that end, I've also seen some readers mention that they felt the actual book's synopsis was misleading. I can't say that I agree with that but everyone's allowed their own opinion. 

Laura Lam's debut is a unique fantasy set in a fabulously imagined world. Ellada and the various colonies and mythology are intriguing and I really hope that the follow up play up to that more. There are creatures that are only barely touched on in this debut, the cyrinx, the Chimaera, the Alders and their Vestige, and the Penglass. I'm dying to know what the Penglass is! Considering what we learn about Micah/Gene and what's hinted at, I'd imagine that book two will have to delve more into those subjects anyway. 

Gene/Micah is such an appealing character for so many reasons. Gene's struggles and attempts to fit in are at times completely heart wrenching, but Lam has also created a character with such overwhelming and admirable strength. I really enjoyed the balance of this story. Lam tackles some touchy issues and she does it very well, all in the midst of a compelling fantasy world. It's doesn't diminish the issues in any way but presents them in a truly different way. And of course the circus setting is infinitely wonderful! I know I'm not alone in wondering what will come next for the characters and the world especially considering the cliffhanger ending. 

Pantomime is new out this month from Strange Chemistry. You can read the first chapter here.

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