Rating: 3 out of 5 kitties
Jules Maroni is one of the Amazing Maronis, a family of circus folk whose own small circus is failing. To bring them into the spotlight, she pushes them into joining the Cirque American where they come face to face with family rivals, the Flying Garcias. At Cirque American, the past comes back to haunt her, and Jules and her newfound crush, Remy Garcia have to uncover the secrets of the ancient feud if they want to end it.
I don't exactly know how to describe this except that it needed to be much muchier. The description sounded incredible: mystery, acrobatics, magic. I was hoping for something more along the lines of The Night Circus, and instead got something kind of blah.
I was wary from the beginning, with the dreaded prologue that every literary agent says never to use. For good reason. It was all backstory. History was piled onto me, and then somehow we end up rushed into the circus and dancing in the muscular arms of Remy. Surprise. Surprise. What happens next is a lackluster romance in which I have no idea why either character likes the other one except that their parents might be kind of mad if they were dating, they are both attractive, and they are the same age.
The "threat" is kind of the same. Nothing really happens to Jules so the stakes aren't running real high, and I didn't love any of the characters enough to care that much anyway. Then, around page 250, we go from 0 to 60 in a few pages. The mystery picks up from there and I was definitely intrigued enough to keep reading, but I had to slog through 250 pages of nothing to get there. I never got hooked on the romance. There just wasn't enough passion or tension or emotion or anything. It was sort of like be together, not be together, whatever. *Shrug.*
While I was reading I tried to pinpoint why this was falling flat, and I think it was because there was a lot of "telling." At the beginning of each chapter Jules tells us what happened in a one or two page summary that sounds much the same. She tells us the history of her family. She tells us she likes Remy but we don't really see it through action. But then there were parts that shone, like when Jules mounts the wire for her first outdoor walk, because it was described with feeling and tension.
What I did like about this throughout was the voice. Jules is a stubborn, focused, quippy girl with her eyes set on stardom. The author also did her research on wire walkers and circus life, and the way Jules relates this information to us felt authentic, not like a regurgitated lecture.
It's frustrating because I know I would have really really liked this is if was just a bit more. Even the ending came off a little Scooby-Doo-esque. I wouldn't shy anyone away from reading this, but I don't know that I would recommend it either.