Mini Book Review: CIRQUE DE LA LUNE - by Emma Hamm

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Published: 2019. 
Genres: Young adult / paranormal / dystopia / romance.
Pages: N.A.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Sexual innuendos / mild violence. 
Format: eARC. 
Source: Thank you so much to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. I voluntarily read & reviewed this copy. All thoughts are my own.

Frank Fairwell had it all, until he didn't. Stripped away in a moment of philanthropic guilt that left him penniless, jobless, and despised by the people who'd raised him. Perhaps that's why the Pinkertons jumped him outside a bar and left him for dead in the river.

Evelyn Dubois lives on the outskirts of society. She's seen both the good, and the bad, all while hiding behind a striped tent known as Cirque la Lune. With her fiery red hair, and a flaming temper to boot, most people avoid her. Other than the man they found washed up on their shores, bootless, and nearly dead.

The Big Top hides many secrets, least of all the man who should have died. Frank quickly realizes these creatures who boast of magical abilities are far more powerful than their shows let on.

The only question is: Do they really want to stay hidden? Or should they let the world see what they can really do?

Emma Hamm's writing is irresistible. She has a breathtaking way with words, and I always know I'll appreciate the prose of her books - even if I don't fall head over heels with the story and characters.

The world-building is the best part of this book. It's the highlight for me. The world is so creative and tantalising, with a rich backstory and vivid descriptions to capture the scope of it. I utterly adored it.

The story is great. The pacing is excellent, the structure is impeccable, and it's all very clear-cut. This is a novella, after all - the author delivers a short story, but she doesn't compromise the quality.

I like the characters. No one is particularly multi-dimensional, but they're vivid and compelling all the same. The secondary cast is colourful, and everyone has a strong role in the plot. Evelyn and Frank, too, are fantastic. They're interesting and easy to root for.

My least favourite part of the novel is the romance. I mean, I love that Frank respects Evelyn and is so conscious of her making her own choices and ensuring that she's treated well, but the way this attitude comes across is so unnatural and forced. It feels like the author is trying too hard to convince us that Frank is a feminist. Honestly, I don't need to be reminded every second paragraph how beautiful Evelyn is, or how strong she is, or how she deserves the world, or that Frank believes in treating women well. All those things aren't bad, but they're overemphasised. Frank's inner monologuing is just cringy, because it's so contrived and told. It needs to be more seamlessly interwoven into the story - not professed every few sentences. It grated on my nerves.

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