Circus of the Damned
Author: Cornelia Grey
I admit that, having just finished one wonderful Steampunk novel, I was almost afraid of what I might encounter in Circus of the Damned, especially since Ms. Grey is a new author to me. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried at all. What I found was a magical, imaginative, and very well written story that kept me fully captivated from start to finish.
From the beginning, Gilbert is an interesting character, but his self-imposed (yet understandable) solitude makes him seem incomplete. While his circumstances necessitate an unhealthy amount of bravado and self-sufficiency, his successfully reckless methods for surviving haven’t exactly made him a sympathetic man. Gilbert soon learns that excessive alcohol consumption and magic are a truly horrible combination, and he finds that the patterns he assumed would dictate the rest of his existence have merely been the prologue for something much bigger. As Farfarello, the most crucial of the remaining characters notes:
“You’re an arrogant man, Gilbert Blake, and I will be delighted to watch you learn a little humility.”
While Gilbert acts as the narrator, it is the other main character, Jesse, whom I loved from his very first scene. Complicated, troubled, compassionate, and beautiful, Jesse is the glue that holds everything together. The entire circus revolves around him, and Gilbert’s fascination with him is fully understandable. While all of Gilbert’s new companions alter him in various ways, it is Jesse that turns him completely inside out, and rightly so.
As much as I liked losing myself in the intricacies of Gilbert and Jesse’s relationship, I enjoyed the narrative as a whole just as much. It is a dark, clever, perilous journey, filled with suspense, and sometimes sorrow, but the hope that keeps the characters going throughout the story is undeniable. From the outset, the pressure began building, quickly and steadily, and my anticipation of what might happen when the turning point came was considerable.
Although Circus of the Damned works fine as a standalone, I’m looking forward to reading the first story in the series, Devil at the Crossroads. Ms. Grey is a gifted storyteller, creating richly vivid scenes that played out effortlessly in my mind and stayed with me even after I’d finished the book. Filled with some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, Circus of the Damned is a unique, thought-provoking, and sensual experience that I highly recommend. Jesse and Gilbert have become instant favorites, and I am greedily hoping for something more from them in the future.
Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.
Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.
Release Date: November 3, 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Series: Deal with a Devil #2
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk, Historical Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ, m/m
Format(s): paperback (322 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley
Circus of the Damned (Deal with a Devil #2)
Authors L.A. Witt, Alexis Hall, and Cornelia Grey come together on a Steampunk book tour to celebrate the releases of Precious Metals, Prosperity, and Circus of the Damned.
Join us on adventures through the lawless, untamed, kraken-infested skies! Trek the snowy wilds of the Klondike in the company of a Mountie! Visit a soul-stealing circus where entertainment is at your own risk! Riptide’s Gaslamp Fortnight will tempt you with the steampunk and gaslamp worlds of Cornelia Grey, Alexis Hall, and L.A. Witt.
And Gaslamp Fortnight is featuring a fabulous giveaway! Comment on the tour stops for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate to Harlots and Angels Steampunk Corsetry and get your own custom corset or personalized steampunk gear.
Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.
After graduating with top grades, she is now busy with internships: literary agencies, publishing houses, and creative departments handling book series, among others. She also works as a freelance translator.
She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.
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