Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Circus of Ghosts (Barbara Ewing)

Title: The Circus of Ghosts
Author: Barbara Ewing
Published: 2011
Publisher: Little Brown Paperbacks
Pages: 416
Source: Library
Genres: Historical Fiction
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Circus of Ghosts is the sequel to Barbara Ewing's fantastic novel The Mesmerist. The Mesmerist was set in London in the 1830s and follows the story of Miss Cordelia Preston, a beautiful, ageing actress who, faced with poverty, reinvents herself as a Lady Phreno-Mesmerist, a practice of entrancing patients for healing purposes that has captivated the city. I read The Mesmerist two years ago and found it an incredibly captivating read. I have always enjoyed Ewing's novels for their strong female character leads and in depth research.

Circus of Ghosts follows Cordelia Preston over 10 years later as she has taken her daughter Gwenlliam and her misfit collection of "family" across to New York and set themselves up with Silas P. Swift's circus. Unknown to them a venomous duke from their past plots with an unscrupulous lawyer against the mother and daughter; to kill one and to abduct the other.

The amount of research that would have gone into this book must have been quite substantial as the descriptions of New York during that time; of the gangs and the docks and the police and the stark contrast between poverty and high class society are simply stunning. That coupled with the incredibly detailed picture of San Francisco during the gold mining era was fascinating. I would love to read more about this time in America's history so if anyone knows some great books to dive into let me know.

Unfortunately that was the best thing I liked about this book. Unlike many of her other books this one simply lacked something in the character relationships that should really engage you into a novel. I found many of the character interactions and drivers to be surface level, the story jumped all over the place and was quite disjointed and it lacked the pace of the first book. This made it just an okay novel instead of a great one.

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