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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant sequel!, 7 Jan 2014
This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
Ahhhhh I loved this book! Having read and really enjoyed Pantomime I was so eager to get my hands on Shadowplay. I don't think I've quite calmed myself down enough to be writing this review yet. It felt like such a different book from Pantomime yet so similar. I really enjoyed Laura's first book but this one blasted it straight out of the water. It's in this book that I fully fell in love with Micah and Drystan, Cyan and Maske. I feel like I've left some best friends behind in the pages of Shadowplay and I hope that we will be reunited in the future.

Shadowplay picks up where Pantomime left off - Micah and Drystan are in hiding following the death of Bil. They're wanted for his murder but Shadows are also stalking Micah in order to return him to his home as Lady Iphigenia Laurus. They seek refuge with the once great magician, Jasper Maske. Shocking and thrilling events unfold which keep readers on their toes and wondering about what is to come next for these characters. I often found myself with yet another case of 'just one more chapter...' whenever I went to put the book down with so many chapters endings urging you to read on. I really couldn't get enough of Micah's story.

Laura's second novel draws in more the fantasy feel with further introductions to the chimera and the future that faces Micah. It was so thrilling to be drawn so entirely into this world. I felt like this place existed as I was reading it, and felt disappointed yet relieved (to an extent) that it doesn't. With certain characters with such powers unfurling, I'm really excited to see where Lam takes this. I loved seeing the developments in the relationships between Micah and Drystan, and I also loved seeing the budding friendship of our four protagonists - in particular, the mysterious Cyan. This book held so much emotion and excitement - it really is an unputdownable read.

The further exploration of Micah as an intersex character was so interesting to me as a past MA student and I found myself wishing that I could go back to write an essay on both Pantomime and Shadowplay. Laura handles the topic of the discrimination and repression of those that are intersex so well and sensitively. Micah's anxiety, worries and attempts to look for explanations are so heartfelt and emotional. Micah is constantly searching for answers as to why he was born the way he is. I found this so difficult to read; to see a character that has had the notion that to be intersex is to be unnatural so deeply ingrained that he can't see how beautiful he truly is. How being intersex is entirely normal and natural. It's the first series that I've read that deals with this issue and it's done beautifully.

I adored this book. Shadowplay is thrilling, page-turning, captivating and so emotional. I couldn't put it down. With the promise of a gaslight fantasy, Laura Lam certainly doesn't let us down. Props to you, Laura - I loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant sequel to PANTOMIME, 24 Feb 2014
This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
I absolutely loved Laura's first book, PANTOMIME, which was my introduction to intersex characters in fiction. It really brought something new to the YA scene, and I loved how it included an intersex character without being an "issue book" -- Micah was still the hero of the story, still taking charge and owning the role of a fantasy novel protagonist.

SHADOWPLAY improves massively on the pacing of PANTOMIME, and it's a gripping read from start to finish. It's fantastic to see the world laid out in the first book expanded on, and to receive answers to some of the questions readers have had since the story began. Drystan, the white clown, hugely benefits from the depth added to his character in this sequel and moves from a mysterious love interest to a genuine and witty boyfriend to Micah. As for new character Cyan, she's adorable. SO ADORABLE.

SHADOWPLAY doesn't mess around, expanding on the events of the first book in an expert way and hitting your feelings hard. It's a fantastic read, and I'm looking forward to reading the PANTOMIME short stories due out later this year.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, 10 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
The only problem with this book is that the next one is not out yet.

I had to download this book as soon as I finished Pantomime to continue following Micah Grey's story. The world created by Laura Lam is vivid and intriguing and had me hooked! Would be so awesome as a movie!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Continuing excellence, 28 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
Continues to provide a refreshing viewpoint in an interesting world.

Feels a little like too much is left for the finale, unless it's drawn out to more than three books. Laura's teasing me a little too much...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously written, 26 Jan 2014
Discussing Shadowplay is impossible without revealing some major spoilers for the previous book Pantomime. If you haven't read it and want to remain unspoiled, please read no further. You've been warned: here be spoilers!

Laura Lam's debut Pantomime was exquisite. Not only was it wonderfully atmospheric and exciting, it also featured an intersex protagonist, something I at least hadn't seen written about before and it was done beautifully and with care. So to say that my expectations were high for Shadowplay would be an understatement. To my delight, Lam managed to meet all of them and even left them behind with her second book in the Micah Grey series.

After the climactic events of Pantomime, Micah and Drystan find refuge with an old mentor of Drystan's, Jasper Maske and move from the circus ring to the magic theatre stage. I loved how Lam managed to find them a new place but with a similar enchanting atmosphere to the circus. The magic we see them learn under Maske's tutelage is a well-developed mix between sleight-of-hand and illusions. Maske's teaching of magic and séances was interesting and cool and even drew back the curtains on some of the mechanics of illusion. In a way the story evoked The Prestige somewhat in its rivalry between Jasper Maske and his former partner Pen Taliesin. I loved this plotline and Lam plays it out beautifully.

Jasper Maske is a wonderful paternal character in need of redemption. This is given to him by the family he collects around him consisting of people who find refuge in his old, run-down theatre. Lam makes him both sympathetic and a bit mysterious, without having him become pitiful due to his past. The main other new addition is Cyan, a Temnian girl who's run away from home to escape her parents' disapproval of her abilities. She's a wonderful addition to the mix, creating a bit of tension between Micah and Drystan, but also just interesting in and of herself. Other characters who play their part are Lily Vere, Maske's lady love, and Pen Taliesin and his grandsons, who are the main adversaries in this book. And of course there is the Shadow who has been looking for Micah to return him to his parents.

Lam also expands the reader's knowledge of Ellada, both in the book's present and its past. In the present we learn more about the current political situation through the presence of the Foresters, a group who protests the current distribution of power between classes. I expect them to play a larger part in the next book, but in Shadowplay they are one of the signals that all is not well in Ellada. We learn more about the past and Ellada's history with the Chimaera and the Alder through the memories imparted to Micah by the Phantom Damselfly, whose name turns out to be Anisa. I loved Anisa's memories and the way she can still be a character with agency despite having been 'stored' on a disc. Lam also uses Anisa and her memories to create a greater story arc. Where Pantomime was intimate, a coming-of-age story if you will, Shadowplay widens the scope to becoming a saving-the-world story in the rest of the series.

It's hard to talk about the book without giving too much away, which might make this review seem somewhat vague, however I truly adored Shadowplay. Lam's writing is gorgeous and with Shadowplay she's proven she's here to stay and has put herself on my must-read list. While the story can be read without having read Pantomime, not having read it takes away from the story Lam is weaving and I highly recommend you pick it up before reading Shadowplay. If you have read Pantomime, you probably don't need me to convince you to go read it. Shadowplay was brilliant, even if it ends on somewhat of a cliff hanger, and I can't wait to find out what happens next.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keeps getting better, 17 Jan 2014
This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
NB Shadowplay is the sequel to Pantomime, so this review contains spoilers for that book. It is possible to read Shadowplay without having read Pantomime as the key information about events is reviewed as it is touched upon, but - even though this is better - I would recommend reading Pantomime first. A longer version of this review appears at dor.booklikes.com.

Also, this book was provided to me for no monies by the kind peoples at Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry, facilitated in this act of goodness/marketing by the mighty NetGalley.

The short non-spoilery version of this review: Yeah. It was pretty good. If your tastes run to YA (which mine don't), make this 4 stars.

As I said in my review of Pantomime, I am not the target audience for YA and due to that, was not going to complain (for once) about things I dislike but which are fine within, or expected of, the genre. The same holds true for Shadowplay: I may personally find it lacks *adjective*, but I'd say that about Harry Potter, or The Hunger Games. I'm 32. I have a limited capacity for showing enthusiasm for most YA stories. However, I liked Pantomime, picking it up originally because I vaguely know Laura through a writer's message board, but mainly because it was 99p.

Shadowplay picks up directly from Pantomime's cliffhanger which saw Micah and Drystan studiously doing their utmost to avoid the various people keen to track them down for reasons to do with murdering, blinding, arson, thievery, and refusing to have your gentleman's bits sliced off. They seek refuge with an old friend of Drystan's, the magician Jasper Maske, then stay with him to learn the trade he no longer practices. They are joined at Maske's by the young lady on the book's rather gorgeous cover, Cyan, and the three are dragged into a duel with Maske's rival which, as the blurb rather portentously puts it, will decide their fates.

In structure then, some similarities to its predecessor: Pantomime was concerned with Micah learning to perform in the circus, Shadowplay is concerned with him learning to perform magic tricks. Where Pantomime was slowed somewhat by the division of the narrative between Micah at the circus and the story of how he came to run away from his life as noble's daughter Iphigenia Laurus, Shadowplay keeps its storylines more closely intertwined and, as a result, stuff actually happens. Which is good.

For me, the stronger of the two storylines is the one the blurb doesn't go into. For that reason I won't either except to say it concerns Micah and the unusual talents he displayed in Pantomime, and it is *very* engaging. The duel and the various parts to do with it didn't work for me for several reasons - a magicians' duel is not a new idea and this one doesn't bring much to the party beyond the specifics of the book's world. I also felt the stakes to be weak, that failure would be a hassle rather than a disaster, but then that says much for the characters Lam has created: I really felt like they'd cope.

I have praise for Lam's character development - where Pantomime's Micah was terrified of anybody finding out what he was, and spent a little too long for my taste internally proclaiming he was a freak, Shadowplay's Micah has begun to accept what he is, even though he doesn't know what that is. At times I found the emotion a tad thin, particularly at the grief-sozzled beginning, but the interactions between the various characters develop naturally, Micah's concerns about those new to him feeling authentic rather than throwaway. Kudos, also, for Lam's ability to do what eludes so many aspiring (and a decent smattering of bestselling) writers: writing the character rather than the gender.

I also really liked the world building. Shadowplay gives us more of the land of Ellada and the socio-political forces beginning to make themselves felt. There are beginnings here, stories which will hopefully come to the fore later in the series and I'm looking forward it. Lam inspires confidence that she knows what she's doing and where she's taking this. I may not have liked the book's story - which was also true of Pantomime - but the larger series story is epic, and detailed, and the ending ... has the same "issue" as Pantomime's, which is only good while you're reading it. Once the series is complete, or at least more established, this will probably feel like a strength. Right now it doesn't.

Shadowplay builds on the good foundation Pantomime gave it, developing the ideas and beginning to give this series more of a stand-out identity. While on the surface some of these ideas - like the magician's duel - are rather too similar to something I've seen/heard/read/played before, the book never feels derivative. For somebody who isn't a 32 year-old repository for useless facts, the target audience for instance, it's unlikely to be a issue. My biggest gripe about its predecessor remains: the reluctance of the blurb to mention the fact Micah is intersex. It annoys me because it's so central to the story.

There are vivid ideas, a well realised world, interesting characters, and a story I definitely want to find out what happens next in. That said, it wasn't quite there for me, just as a personal taste thing, so I'm giving it 3.5 stars but it was very, *very* close to 4. If YA is more your thing than mine, I'd definitely suggest giving the series a whirl.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and full of magic, 9 Feb 2014
By 
Leo Elijah Cristea (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shadowplay (Micah Grey) (Kindle Edition)
This review will barely do justice to the book and its sheer excellence, because I am having to reign in my inner fanboy and go easy on the complete author love, here. There’s a lot of fanboy to contain, trust me. Shadowplay is the second of the Micah Grey books (and hell, I fear a revolt if there are not more!) and it not only continues on beautifully from where its predecessor Pantomime left off in taking us on a magical journey through a Victorian-esque world that could almost be ours, yet isn’t, revealing slowly and deliciously more and more and more about the history of Ellada and what bearing the deep past can have on the very near present, but it further reveals the heart and soul of Micah Grey, constantly resonating with themes of acceptance, confidence and identity.Shadowplay-Cover

With their lives in the circus in tatters, Micah and Drystan must flee, seeking refuge with the only person whom Drystan thinks he can trust in the whole of Imachara. The washed-up magician, Jasper Maske has not performed magic for years, due to an old grudge that was harshly settled all those years ago, whilst his rival flourishes on the stage with his grandsons, performing so many of the beloved tricks that Maske and his rival developed themselves when they worked together instead of against the other. But this has nothing to do with Micah and Drystan, who simply need to hide from the policiers and the accusations of murder that will follow them from the circus following the double murder that occurred.

Still nursing a broken heart, Micah’s spirits are shattered. Never mind that during the first night with Maske and during a séance he insists on holding, Micah has a vision that he simply cannot understand or fathom. It must have something to do with his being a special case, how the Penglass reacts to his touch and all the other small things that he has never really thought about until now—until he meets someone else like himself. Micah will soon discover just it is he might be and that he is definitely not alone.

Soon, magic and performance become Micah’s life and he finds that he hungered for show business after the circus life he had so carefully nurtured was torn from him so suddenly. Drystan and Micah become Maske’s assistants and begin to learn everything from this master of magic. Of course, the option to leave Imachara for good still hangs over their heads as they take refuge in Maske’s old and dusty Kymri theatre, hiding from the public eye wearing magical disguises and hoping not to be recognised somehow from their likenesses that have been circulating. Then, of course, there’s still the Shadow to think about.

Before Micah knows it, his heart and his head are in disarray: between visions and cryptic messages about what he is, all mixed together with blossoming feelings of love, Micah has a lot to think about. Not least of all the fact that a Chimera keeps telling him the world is going to end and he will have to save it. Only, he hasn’t really got a clue how and the world doesn’t seem in peril… unless you count the growing ire of the Foresters, who are rallying louder and louder against the Twelve Trees and the rigid, lofty monarchy of Imachara. With the Princess Royal only a child and her uncle pulling the strings from behind, there is a lot the Foresters have to complain about. But are they going about it the right way and will the actions of their charismatic leader have any bearing on the future of the world at large?

In Shadowplay Lam has created a platform onto which a deeper and far wider reaching plot will grow and spread, eclipsing any semblance of normality in Micah’s life, demonstrating that a book can be a success starting out as a slice-of-life story about one person and one person alone, and transform into something bigger in the blink of an eye. Stuff happens that we can’t always see, things that suddenly appear on the stage uninvited and unexpected. Lam captures perfectly sense of being swept up in something far bigger and far more complex than oneself, without the automatic urge to bend and be swept away. Micah has a level-headed approach to everything that happens around him and this creates a genuinely realistic character whose life is heading in one direction, his destiny in another. The two will meet eventually, but Micah will plot his own course as much as he can. And he does. Yet there is no sense of a “chosen one” despite the constant reiteration that Micah can save the world. Everything is about cause and effect and consequence, and moreover, evil and darkness behind the scenes. Protagonists have lives and do not spend all day peeking behind the black curtain at the back and sides to see if trouble will appear.

There is a great sense of real life in the Micah Grey books and it’s one of the things I love most about Lam and her writing, her world. Most of all, I love that Micah is Micah, with no compromises. The message this sends is necessary and powerful. Furthermore, Micah will discover that difference can be irrelevant. What you are does not automatically shape your identity; who you are is what matters.

Pantomime will always have a special place in my heart, but Shadowplay has outdone even that and presented a deliciously exciting story with so much meaning and mystery. Nothing is clear come the end of Shadowplay, save only that things are set to become very complicated. Lam’s focus on characters is absolutely perfect, with everything performed against the backdrop of a lost and confusing world glimpsed only through echoes of the past and dreams and visions, and a magic contest that the whole city will be watching. Vestige could be magic, it could be technology. There is so much we do not know; there is so much Micah does not know. This complete lack of reader omniscience is ideal for a story where the characters very much so come first.

Shadowplay is a gorgeously written novel with so big a heart the pages can barely contain it. There is scope and ambition and a very clear sense that Lam knows precisely what she’s doing; the perfect author-puppeteer behind Micah’s stage. There is a sense of rightness about how everything unfolds, as though Micah’s life is set on invisible tracks, heading towards a point in the distance that only Lam knows. Everything in Shadowplay is paced and presented just as it should be, with mystery and intrigue, romance and a deep hatred between old rivals.

In short: Lam is a genius, she writes beautifully and everything about this book was a complete and absolute pleasure. If you loved the circus, you’ll fall in love with the complex and fascinating world behind the stage of Shadowplay and the Kymri theatre Micah now calls home.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing sequel!, 24 Jun 2014
Like Pantomime, Shadowplay gripped me from the first page. This sequel certainly doesn't falter, picking up immediately where the first book left off, with Micah and Drystan on the run. They go into hiding with a magician, Jasper Maske, whose bitter rivalry with another magician cost him his career. There's also a girl, Cyan, who's hiding at least as many secrets as Micah and Drystan are. Even without the circus setting of the first book, there's plenty of magic in the story.

There's a real sense that author Laura Lam is gradually pulling back the curtain to reveal more of this fascinating world, and I love the snippets we get throughout the story which gain significance later on. Magical duels, unique ideas, and complex, flawed characters - I can't recommend this series enough!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another magical installment to this series, 28 May 2014
Review probably includes spoilers for book 1, Pantomime.
Review: Following the events at the circus, Micah and Drystan are on the run, wanted for murder. They end up at the Kymri Theatre, and learn magic tricks under Jaspar Maske, a magician who lost his licence to perform after the break up of his magic act with Taliesin. While here, lots of things happen-Micah learns new things about himself, others, and what other people want with him too.
Micah is still quite angsty over the ending of Pantomime, but luckily it doesn't intrude too much on the action. He's a bit more sure of himself, and he's just as awesome as in Pantomime. Drystan's deadpan sarker comes through a lot, for comic relief-see fight with Taliesin's grandsons and . I like him.
Shadowplay, plotwise, is very different to Pantomime. We learn a few things about Micah that you -really- don't expect. Then there's everything about the Chimaera, which I thought would be a minor thing but are definitely aren't now. Anisa, the Damselfly that wee didn't know much about before, is back, and I understand her a lot more now. I'd like the Penglass to be elaborated on a bit more, but I think that will happen at some point.
I'm still not entirely sure about the whole trees thing. I get there's a party called The Foresters who want the typical “down with the aristocracy who forget the workers thing” thing but something makes me think there's more to them and whether or not there is is something i'd like to know or have explained.
The romance in this is nice. My OTP will --forever-- be Micah/Aenea, but Shadowplay has made me like Micah/Drystan a lot more, because you can tell they grew closer after the last night at the circus, putting across their romantic relationship more than in Pantomime when they were more of the best best friend type.
There’s a few infodumps at the start for backstories, but I don’t see how else you can get them in first person. Until we got to the middle where Anisa and Micah go through the backstory of the Chimaera, which is just an amazing way of putting it through.
The thing that swayed this from a 4 to 5 was the chapter with the duel. Everything about that. The magic tricks are so beautifully described, and other things happen, and they ending to that chapter was really nice because it showed character development and the magic tricks and...yeah. kudos for chapter
The ending was very sudden. I'm not sure where -that- came from, but I hope it gets resolved or furthered soon.

Overall: Strength 4.5 tea, just more a 5, to a great sequel to a magical series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and mysterious and magical, 28 April 2014
By 
Michelle Cardozo (Wokingham, Berkshire) - See all my reviews
I absolutely loved the first book in this series, Pantomime. I thought it had amazing characters and a wonderful fantasy setting and I was always going to be excited to read the sequel. However, I did put off reading Shadowplay by Laura Lam for a very long time because I was slightly worried that my expectations might be slightly too high for any book to live up to.

Now that I've finally read this book I can happily say that I absolutely loved it. Everything that I loved about Pantomime is apparent in Shadowplay apart from the back and forth with the timeline. Fabulous characters, mystery, a magical setting, a wonderful fantasy world, and great relationships.

Shadowplay takes place immediately after the explosive events of Pantomime and Micah and Drystan, the white clown, find themselves with a desperate need for refuge. For this, they throw themselves at the mercy of Drystan's old magician friend, Jasper Maske, and soon they become more invested in Jasper's life and troubles and get more involved in magic and illusion.

Because it has been a while since I read this book I will leave you with this brief list: Things I love about Shadowplay:

I really loved the circus setting in Pantomime. (Every one did, right?) But I also really loved all of the detail and training and history involved in turning Drystan, Micah, and new character, Cyan, into illusionists in Shadowplay. I really did enjoy every single detail of this journey that were all on. I loved the bit of mystery surrounding Jasper Maske and his mirrors and everything he was working on. My heart really went out to him when learning of his past and the reason he can no longer perform magic in front of an audience and because of my emotional connection to him, I really wanted things to work out in his favour.

I also absolutely loved Ellada as the fantasy setting of both books. There is a bit of mystery surrounding this shady man who appears to be following Micah and Drystan and I found it really interesting to see them wandering about collecting clues. Also, there is a great deal of information regarding Penglass in this book which was very satisfying.

I've been pretty outspoken about my love for Micah Grey as a character and I really stand by that. I think he's a great and well-developed character and he really grows into himself in this book. Part of that is because of him learning new skills as an illusionist, part of that is down to the amazing relationships he has in his life. I am very fond of his relationship with his brother that we are able to see briefly in this book and his budding friendship with Cyan was quite nice to see as well. And part of his growth in confidence is down to the information (sometimes misleading and vague!) that he gets regarding how and why he is so very special. I can't wait to read more about this aspect of Micah's story.

And finally, we have the slow burn romantic relationship between Micah and Drystan. This has to be a slow burn, as Micah is still grieving for Aenea, but even during Pantomime I was rooting for Micah and Drystan. It seems to take them both a pretty long time to be okay with their relationship progressing but it felt very natural when it did happen. I want them to have a happily ever after!

All in all, Shadowplay was everything I wanted it to be. Fascinating and mysterious and magical. I do need more Micah Grey in my life.
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