The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.
He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske.
When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates.
People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
Paperback, 400 pages
Four Stars: A smart, complex and intriguing series.
Micah and Drystan are in hiding after the devastating events that transpired their last night at the circus. The pair are wanted for the murder of the ringmaster. Drystan seeks shelter with an old friend Jasper Maske. Maske is a washed up magician, unable to perform magic, living in a dilapidated old theatre. Maske agrees to hide Micah and Drystan for three months. During that time, Maske will teach Drystan and Micah magic. Immediately, Micah begins having visions. In the depths of the old theatre, secrets swirl and mysteries abound. Will Micah find the truth behind the visions?
What I Liked:
- This review will be spoiler free, but if you have not read Pantomime, I highly recommend reading it before investigating this book. There is a big and rather shocking reveal in the first book. It is best if you discover the stunning secret on your own rather than having it spoiled by reviews. I can tell you that this series is unlike anything I have read before. The main character alone with his unique condition is something you should experience. Add in the magic, the world building, the settings of the circus and the magic show, along with interesting and engaging characters and you have a solid foundation for an exceptional series.
- I fell in love with the circus in Pantomime so I was a bit disappointed that the circus was left behind. However, I shouldn't have worried as this time around I was plunged into the mysterious world of magic and seances. I loved the old theatre, the illusions and the tragic magician Jasper Maske. It was exciting learning more about the tricks of how illusions and seances were performed. I liked that the magic was mostly based on illusion, but yet there was a hint of real magic as well. I was swept away by the exciting and enchanting world of magic. It was thrilling to watch Micah, Drystan and Cyan learn the tricks of the trade and take on the successors of Maske's old rival in a magician's dual. Once again, Ms. Lam has done an exceptional job with her setting.
- The world building solidifies and strengthens in this book. Micah lives in a world littered with vestiges which are magical relics from a golden age long past. These relics along with giant penlights are the remains of a great and magical society that mysteriously disappeared. The vestiges are fueled by magic which is slowly running out. Micah is in possession of one of these vestiges. He has a small disc with the a strange damselfly woman trapped inside. This damselfly has some astounding secrets that shed light on the past and how the magic left the world. I was intrigued by the world building and loved that it grew stronger with this book.
- I was pleased to see even more growth with Micah. Micah is still struggling with his unique identity. However, he is becoming more comfortable in his body and learning to trust others. It takes him awhile to warm up to the newcomer Cyan, but soon he earns another friend. I loved watching this friendship grow and develop. Micah has an interesting and perplexing condition. There is further information on why he is the way he is that helped me to better come to terms with him. I can't go into too many details here or I will give away the enormous secret. I will say that I appreciated the further clarification and I am enjoying seeing Micah evolve. I am most curious to see how he will solidify his identity in the future.
- I liked getting to know Jasper Maske and Cyan. Maske has a tragic history and he is a broken down magician who lost everything. I loved learning more about him and watching him fight for redemption. Cyan is a lost girl who like Micah, has some interesting abilities. She also is running from her parents and her past. It takes awhile to get to know her and trust her, but once I fully understood her character, I loved her. I thought both Jasper and Cyan were two terrific inclusions.
And The Not So Much:
- The pacing of this book is a bit slow. After Micah and Drystan settle in at the the theatre, not a lot happens. There is a great deal of ground work being laid and lots of explanation, but the excitement and action is low key up until the big magician's dual. At that point, things take off leading up to a thrilling conclusion. This book does require a bit of patience as it spends time developing the story, molding the characters and world building.
- There are numerous dreams and visions scattered throughout the book. At first, I found them to be very confusing, but by the end, as things solidified I was able to see the purpose and piece things together. I have to admit, dream sequences and visions are not my favorite way to gain information.
- The romance is a bit lackluster. This is a hard romance to explain, again because I don't want to divulge too much information. It is begins as a hesitant friendship and moves into trust and then something more. Words of comfort, a hug to soothe a nightmare, a look, a kiss, but that is about it. I am most curious to learn more about how the suitor views Micah. While it is apparent that Micah's condition is not an issue with the relationship, which I think is refreshing, I want desperately to know more. This is definitely not a series with a strong romance. At least there isn't a love triangle.
- Drystan was such an exciting and interesting character in the first book. He is the bad boy clown who harbors some big secrets. In this book, once he divulges his hidden truths, he fades into the shadows. Yes, he is there, but he doesn't have much of a role. Instead the spotlight moves to Cyan. I missed his bold character in this one.
- This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. It isn't a jarring ending like in the first book, and thankfully, many of the story lines are resolved. However, there is a shocking reveal at the end that left me eager to know more.
Shadowplay is a solid sequel that doesn't falter under the middle book syndrome. It moves the story forward, develops the characters and strengthens the world building. This is a smart, unique, intriguing and entertaining series. I highly recommend you go back and read Pantomime before learning more about this series so you can experience the startling secrets for yourself. I am most impressed by this series, and I cannot wait to see how it continues to develop.
"Is it ghosts that truly haunt us, or the memory of our own mistakes that we wish we could undo?"
"Just because you want something does not mean it is yours to take.' she said. "Especially when it is something as complex as a women's heart."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.