R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimeras is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star. But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
Pantomine is a such a refreshing fantasy novel. The protagonist, Micah, a young runaway who joins the circus, is hiding from the law and trying to carve a life for himself. He is trying to live the life he wants, not the one his parents had meant for him. It is mostly about him trying to find himself, and there is a lot of things he has to overcome. The hazing for being a newbie to the circus, his secrets from his love interest Aenea (his partner in the circus act), and escaping the law. He lived a life of luxury but now has to earn his keep and even though he can return anytime, he is determined to stick it out and find out what his identity means. Gene was the other POV of the novel, a boyish girl who wants nothing more than to play with her brother and climb up trees and scaffoldings – and who is being conformed to a life she doesn’t yearn for. The other interesting character is Drystan, who is harboring secrets of his own and is also attracted to Micah. Yes, Micah is bisexual, which I feel I should state in this review in case someone doesn’t like that surprise.
Now, the world of Pantomine seems a bit historical with the society rules and what not, mixed in with an old culture that still leaves it traces on the world in the form of Penglass domes, which are scattered around the cities. Made of magic and mysterious, because no one knows what is within them. Micah has some connection to the Penglass, hinting at his descent from the lost culture, and his origin was something not revealed until the end of the book. The other exotic cultures and the mythology are so enchanting, with the story of the Sun and the Moon particularly inspiring. The ending was shocking and full of twists, some heart-breaking ones too, and it makes me giddy with anticipation to pick up the sequel, which I will be doing right after this. An interesting protagonist, good world-building and excellent writing make this book a really good fantasy read.