What wonderful world building! The writing kinda fell short (Don’t get me wrong, the writing was great) but it wasn’t able to draw out the full potential of the world created.
To start with the setting and world building, (it’s been a week since I finished the book, and still haven’t been able to forget the feel of the Circus). It was -magical-, not Harry Potter Magical, but magical in its own right. I was simply drawn into it, and its atmosphere, the sounds, the feel, everything. I’ve been a sucker for circus and caravan adventures, since ‘The Famous Five’ was one of the very first books, and ‘The Name of the Wind’ is my all-time-fav, and I thank Erin for creating “Le Cirque des Rêves”.
For the Writing; the book is divided into 6 parts, and chapters are noted with a month/year beside their titles. I’m not particularly fond of journal-type writing, especially when it’s not in chronological order. I kept flipping pages going back to the previous chapters, just to mentally arrange the event of each chapter in chronological order. The lack of a table of contents was literally gutting me. After every few chapters, a page would describe the circus, the tone would change from third-person, to directly addressing the reader. I didn’t find the importance of those inserts, until the very last chapters, where everything fell into place.
The development of the characters is gradual (ahem, very-very gradual) even though a span of 30 years is squashed into the book, the book never felt rushed. I personally found the first half quite boring. The second half of the book gets into the actual premise (a.k.a the competition) when everything starts to make sense, and by now the I actually cared enough about the characters (including the side-characters) that I became emotionally attached to them. The last 50-100 pages were difficult to put-down, and convinced me why I might eventually re-read this.
However, one may argue over a couple of plot points not explained or even left out completely, but I would give it the benefit-of-doubt and leave it as description details, not necessary for plot progression. The ending is satisfying overall, leaving you scraping around for more of “Le Cirque des Rêves”, but instead you’d be afraid that a possible addition in the series is more likely to break-it than to make-it.
Overall I gave a three, but half extra point for the marvelous world building – 3.5 out of 5 stars!