Monday, February 04, 2013

REVIEW: Pantomime by Laura Lam

Pantomime by Laura Lam was one of my favourite reads of all of 2012.  Reading the book was exciting and surprising and magical and emotional! So naturally, it's been very difficult to sit down and type out this review.  Not only because it is a book that I loved so wholly and completely and therefore I feel pressurised because I feel like no matter what I write, it won't really convey my feelings about the book well enough, but also because there is quite a large SECRET within its pages and it is hard to talk fully about the beauty of Pantomime without revealing that big twist in the storyline. 

I shall do my best though.  Pantomime is the story of two main characters, Micah and Gene, and the setting is this fantasy-Victorian England as best as I can picture it.  Gene is this wealthy girl who is under a lot of pressure from her family to fit in with society's expectations of how a female should act and behave.  And those sort of guidelines and rules kind of chafe with Gene who likes to run about and climb trees and act decidely unladylike. I especially, especially loved Gene's relationship with her brother.  But there's also some incredibly interesting bits that hint of magic.  Gene is a lovely character, and I thought her to be utterly sweet as she tries to manage society balls and the like.

And to contrast Gene's lifestyle and circumstances quite dramatically, we have Micah Grey, a poor beggar who joins the circus in order to survive.  He manages to fall under the care of a kindly aerialist Arik and his assistant, Aenea.  Life in the circus isn't easy for Micah, as he has to deal with pretty harsh hazing.  But I lapped up every single detail of circus life that Laura Lam throws at us, from the clowns and the aerialist work, to the animals tamers and just the atmosphere that is created with every performance.  I really loved every detail.  And it felt like within this circus filled with freaks and strangeness, that everyone could find a place to belong.  I love that. 

And of course, both Gene and Micah have very large secrets that they are concealing and in unravelling those secrets and the way in which these two storylines overlap and converge, there is such beauty and magic - I actually audibly gasped when I finally realised just what I had read.  I don't want to spoil anything for you, but really, it's worth reading to discover the secret for yourself.  And further incentive, of course, comes from this amazing new world that has been created and the meeting of some of the most amazing characters ever, from Micah and Gene to Aenea and Drystan, the kindly Arik and the morally dubious Ragona, the ringmaster! 

There's magic, and circus life, there's confusion and secrets and the sweetness of falling in love.  Pantomime is really one of the best books I've read of recent time and I urge you to read it sooner rather than later!


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