Book review · novel

Book review: Girl in the shadows

Girl in the Shadows (Cirque Americain #2) by Gwenda Bond

bond-girlintheshadows-21439-cv-ftDescription: (from Gwenda Bond’s website )

Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas’s stage lights while her father’s career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.

When an invitation to join the Cirque American mistakenly falls into Moira’s possession, she takes action. Instead of giving the highly coveted invitation to its intended recipient, Raleigh, her father’s handsome and worldly former apprentice, Moira takes off to join the Cirque. If she can perform alongside its world-famous acts, she knows she’ll be able to convince her dad that magic is her future.

But when Moira arrives, things take on an intensity she can’t control as her stage magic suddenly feels like…real magic. To further distract her, Raleigh shows up none too pleased at Moira’s presence, all while the Cirque’s cocky and intriguing knife thrower, Dez, seems to have it out for her. As tensions mount and Moira’s abilities come into question, she must decide what’s real and what’s an illusion. If she doesn’t sort it out in time, she may forever remain a girl in the shadows.

A review copy (eARC) of this book was provided by the publisher through Netgalley.

Girl in the Shadows was published July 5th 2016, I couldn’t read it sooner as it was a PDF and my ereader couldn’t read this format, I only managed to upload it to my phone a few days ago and read it asap.

I already read two books by Gwenda Bond, her two Lois Lane novel that are really great, so I was really excited when I saw that one when scrolling through netgalley. I loved how the cover has the look of a nice shiny circus poster. Now I like it even more as I understand the details after reading the story and that’s my favourite kind of cover. I haven’t read the first book in the series, Girl on a Wire, but Girl in the Shadows is a companion novel so even if I’m sure it’s better to have read the first, I don’t think I missed some important things in this one. But after reading the description of Girl on a Wire I sure want to read it to understand some characters better!

I liked how the story combined magical tricks and real magic. I hadn’t read the description when I started this book and was pleasantly surprised when the real magic thing happened! But it lacked a little world-building. We’re only said that real magic exists for an ancient family and… that’s it. The story and the plot unfold without more info about this. It wasn’t really a problem but I thought that we would learn more things later and when we didn’t I felt a little disappointed. Maybe more books in this series will be published and we will learn more each with each books!

“The girls at the theater had warned me about the danger of charm. Beware of the smooth-tongued boys, the ones who flattery comes easy to. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to believe it, even when believing what they say is true – you are beautiful, you are smart, you are unique, these are good things to believe – but it’s foolish to assume it means anything beyond pretty words.”

I wasn’t a big fan of the instalove trope. It happened so fast I hadn’t time to want them to be together or anything. Not even to get to know them as character. Moira and Dez lacked a certain characterization. They were too much characterized by their status of magicians and performers, and “cocky” and “charmer” are not really enough for me to fall in love with a character.  But their story was not problematic, their relationship grew gradually even if it felt a little bit forced and started too early in the book in my opinion. It was great anyway to see Moira enjoy nice things that happened to her without losing her footing and still thinking clearly about what she was doing and who she would trust or not. She was a nice main character to follow, when she wasn’t scaring me with her dangerous illusions! At times I wanted to stop reading –in a good way – because I was too anxious of what was going to happen.

“What I’d meant about the lack of shame was true. So what if we hadn’t really spent the night together in that way? I wouldn’t have felt any different if we had. That was antiquated nonsense, making girls feel cheap for having sex, when everyone pretended like it was perfectly fine and the most natural thing in the world for boys. […] I would have to be careful with my magic in a world with this many things to be angry about.”

What I loved most is how Moira took the opportunity to talk about lesser known female magicians or circus acts before her own shows. It was very educational and I thank Gwenda Bond for this! Moira was driven by girl power and feminism and I loved this.

“Addie Herrmann would never have done such a violent escape as the one I’m about to attempt. She was a graceful performer, known for movements like dancing. But I hope to infuse this evening with some of her loveliness. […] She moved like a dancer, because that’s what she began as. Much like me, she practised in secret as a teenager, because her family wouldn’t approve of the pursuit. Dancing in her case, things like this in mine.” When I looked pointedly at the glass coffin, the crowd laughed. “Girls will be girls,” I said, and they laughed even more.

In the end, it was a nice story in which I found myself absorbed, but I didn’t care enough for the characters for it to become a favourite. I’d recommend it for the historical elements sprayed into it about female performers and because it’s quite suspenseful.

(originally posted: 4th August 2016)

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