Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
on 5 January 2016
I said when Pantomime was first released in 2013 that it was 'almost certainly the best fantasy of the year'. The story of Gene - born both male and female, and raised as a debutante, only to run off and take a disguise as Micah Grey, a male aerialist - is a wonderful read and immediately established Lam as a major talent. It's awesome that Tor have rereleased the e-book and I'm delighted to see that they've actually acknowledged that Micah and Gene are the same person in the blurb for the book; my only issue when it originally came out was that the former publisher hadn't made this clear, or mentioned that Gene was intersex - a shame as I know so many people who've been looking for more books with intersex characters!
I love the stunning world-building here. Lam has created a world in which magic used to exist but seems to have disappeared, leaving only remnants such as the mysterious substance Penglass. Inside this big world, she's also created a fabulous society of circus misfits who are reliant on each other to earn a living but have their own intrigues, quarrels and love affairs. She's populated it with brilliant characters, capable of love, heroism, and cruelty. It's a book which looks at bullying, romance, family, and perhaps most impressively, issues about sexuality that are still rarely tackled and are mainly done so in contemporary books. All of these things have been woven perfectly into the rich tapestry of Lam's fantasy world, and feel every bit as natural to the world and as important, as the fantasy trappings like the Penglass and the Vestige.
Warning though - it should come with a box of tissues - while I cry my eyes out fairly regularly at many contemporary novels, I'm fairly sure that this is either the first or second fantasy ever to have that effect on me.) As if to prove there is no end to her talent, Lam actually manages to give us a cliffhanger ending which I thought worked really well. She tidies up enough of the storyline to give us a proper conclusion, but it still had me desperately wanting the sequel right away. (I'm glad to say sequel Shadowplay definitely didn't disappoint, by the way!)
If it's not clear enough, absolutely massive recommendation. Book 3, Maskerade, is very high on my 'most wanted' list.
(Originally published on www.thebookbag.co.uk)