Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release: 7th February 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Rating: 4/5 stars
Source: Received from the publisher for review
Goodreads Summary:"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."
Pantomime is one of the strangest, most fascinating, and daring YA debuts that I’ve read in a while and I mean that in the best possible way. Every time I put this book down I felt like I’d awoken from a peculiar yet wonderful dream as that’s what the tone of this book sets in the fantasy world of Ellada in a circus of magic.
The book is told in alternating perspectives between Micah a training aerialist at the circus and Iphigenia a girl from one of Ellada’s most honourable families. Both of them are hiding a secret that is revealed later on in the book and interweaves these two characters together. This books secret is a brilliant one and makes the book stand apart from other YA books out there. Unfortunately for me I figured out what it was after only a couple of chapters which I must admit took away from the experience a little bit as I do love a good twist.
As mentioned Pantomime is set in a fantasy world and I thought the world building to this book was excellent. At the beginning of each chapter is an article or old legend about Ellada. I really loved these snippets as they allowed you to find out more about the history and politics of the land as you go along without lots of heavy description interfering with the story which I’m never a fan of. I thought this was really clever and was a brilliant aspect to the book.
Despite being set in a fantasy world Pantomime had a very contemporary feel to it and even with having a circus as a backdrop was very character driven. Every single character in this book has more to them than meets the eye and I loved finding out their secrets and peeling away their layers as the book went on. I loved how emotionally complex this book was and how Laura Lam tackled subjects that other YA authors are afraid to. That being said I’d recommend this book to a mature teen audience simply because this book can be rather dark and brutal at times and requires a mature outlook and approach.
Even though Pantomime was a brilliant read in its own right it felt very much like Laura Lam was setting us up for a fantastic series as not much happens plot wise until the end and this book was all about the world building and character development. From what was hinted at and the way that this book ended I think Pantomime is only a taste of the wonder that is to come from both this series and Laura Lam as an author.
Overall what I loved most about Pantomime was the message that whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, whatever your past. There is a place for you somewhere to belong to with people who will embrace and accept you as you are. Pantomime is a truly unique and wonderful experience that will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t fit in.