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Circus of Wonders

By Elizabeth Macneal
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of the “lush, evocative Gothic” (The New York Times Book Review) The Doll Factory comes an atmospheric and spectacular novel about a woman transformed by the arrival of a Victorian circus of wonders—“as moving as it is deeply entertaining” (Daniel Mason, New York Times bestselling author).

Step up, step up! In 1860s England, circus mania is sweeping the nation. Crowds jostle for a glimpse of the lion-tamers, the dazzling trapeze artists and, most thrilling of all, the so-called “human wonders.”

When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders pitches its tent in a poor coastal town, the life of one young girl changes forever. Sold to the ringmaster as a “leopard girl” because of the birthmarks that cover her body, Nell is utterly devastated. But as she grows close to the other performers, she finds herself enchanted by the glittering freedom of the circus, and by her own role as the Queen of the Moon and Stars.

Before long, Nell’s fame spreads across the world—and with it, a chance for Jasper Jupiter to grow his own name and fortune. But what happens when her fame begins to eclipse his own, when even Jasper’s loyal brother Toby becomes captivated by Nell? No longer the quiet flower-picker, Nell knows her own place in the world, and she will fight for it.

Circus of Wonders is a beautiful story about the “complex dance between exploitation and empowerment, and the question of what it really means to have control over your own life” (Naomi Ishiguro, author of Escape Routes).

136 Reviews

“Like, the 6th book about the circus I've read and they're all the same. Abused people tending to malnourished animals in order to make a living while everyone get horny and smells bad. The night circus set the bar pretty high on circus love stories and this couldn't compare. The feminist energy that was most interesting here gets disregarded. It happens in the background with a 10 year span of time the book skates past and the most fascinating debauchry character donning a beard and getting completely usurped and ignored by birthmarks. The love interest of our heroine is so underdeveloped I had a hard time understanding if he was nerodivergent or mentally unstable. It wasn't subtle on purpose its simply not important. The characters in the book didnt bother to get to know him on a relatable level and neither did the author. When the scariest part of the plot is an unpaid debt It becomes something im already to familiar with and disappointed I was not allowed to escape. The book self described the murder twist as irrelevant and not having a point after it turns out it was just "trip and fall" energy and the culprit himself couldn't decide of his own motivation. Oh and there's a fire. There's always a fire. This time no one dies and the story, which spent much time describing the crunch and gore of war and death, let's everyone live. Just not with each other.”
Slightly Smiling Face
Characters change and growBeautifully writtenDescriptive writingEasy to readFeel goodHeartbreaking

About Elizabeth Macneal

Born in Scotland, Elizabeth Macneal is a writer and potter based in London. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth’s debut novel, was an international bestseller, has been translated into twenty-nine languages, and has been optioned for a major television series. It won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. Circus of Wonders is her second novel.

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