Cover Image: Circus of Wonders

Circus of Wonders

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This may be the first Victorian Era story that I've read and while I can't say I loved it, I didn't mind it either. I loved all the details regarding the era and story settings - it made the experience that much more immersive. I'm also a sucker for a circus setting, so that aspect definitely made the story for me. Then when you add in the complex and well developed characters, I couldn't help but finish this one in no one. I will definitely be recommending it to my Victorian Era loving friends!
Was this review helpful?
Circus of Wonders takes place in Victorian London at the hay day of the traveling circus.  It is a hearbreaking tale following the sell of a girl for her oddities from her father to the circus.  It shows her life as a new preformer and making friendships with the others in the troupe.  Very different take on a coming of age tale with feelings of the Greatest Showman!
Was this review helpful?
Tale of loveSet during the Victorian times, the book welcomes the reader to the world of wonders and freaks, oddities and intrigues, a world where, under normal circumstances, its performers would be shunned upon and laughed at, but in this world, they rule and awe, and the ‘outsiders’, who had to pay to see them.

Such is the world that 19-year-old Nell, born with birthmarks that covered her body, felt at home, that she, finally, belong. Her father sold her to Dash, the owner of Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders, for twenty pounds, glad to be rid of her, his shame and burden, the ridicule of his family. Charlie, Nell’s brother, was the only cared, the only one who truly loved her, even so which she constantly asked, was it out of pity, did he feel shame too therefore always hiding her from the others, or was it pure sibling love?

It was there too that Nell fell in love with Toby, the circus’s photographer, also Jasper’s brother. They found something in each other that they could resonate with – alienation. Nell who always felt she didn’t belong, Toby whose world only revolved around his brother, often saw himself as an outcast and invisible in the presence of his brother. Nevertheless, he held his brother in high regard. 

Overall, I thought this was a decent story that had a few strong moments here and there, mostly from Jasper’s POV, especially when he desperately wanted a loan that he believed would save his circus. Some parts, I felt weren’t convincing, like Jasper’s ending felt like it had some loose ends, and Toby and Nell’s relationship felt like theirs was nothing more than physical attraction. Among the three of them (Jasper, Toby and Nell), Toby’s POV, in my opinion, was the weakest in the entire novel.  
 
Thank you NetGalley and publisher for a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
Was this review helpful?
I read The Doll House and was looking forward to more from this author and here it is.

I loved the old-fashioned circus theme.  The characters were great, particularly the women, which I love. No offense to reviewers who dinged the book because so.me of the "characters were not likeable." We're not supposed to like some of the characters. Anyway, I enjoyed this very much. And great artwork on the cover.
Was this review helpful?
Sometimes it's not the book, it's me. I just realized how long it's taken me to start writing this review - and that I keep postponing it because I don't quite know how to review it.  I loved Macneal's first book, The Doll Factory, so was very much looking forward to reading this one.  Somehow I just didn't love this one as much and I've struggled to understand why.  The writing is excellent, the storyline is interesting, so perhaps it was just my overall mood when I was reading it. So much of it is dark and depressing, and maybe I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for that type of book.  But the writing is indeed lovely so I've rounded up to 4 stars because I strongly suspect if I'd read it some other time I'd probably have enjoyed it much more.  
Thanks to Netgalley and Atria Books for providing a copy for an unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley, Atria Books and Elizabeth Macneal for free e-ARC in return of my honest review. 

Nell, young girl who works for her father and is devoted to her brother, is a social outcast in her village due to her looks, her face and body is covered in birthmarks. Her father sold her to the Circus of Wonders, as he was ashamed of her. Nell finds herself alone in a company of “wonders”, people who are different from others and Jasper Jupiter who makes his money out of showcasing these people and fostering his vanity by making a “unique” show of “wonders”. He created Nell a show and she becomes a true Wonder. She found herself strong and capable of accepting herself as she is, she found love in Jasper’s brother Toby. However, who is the teller of her story - she herself or her “creator”?

Overall, I did enjoy the story. Mostly, I was fascinated by Nell, her character is a truly full of wonders - she became alive from the pages of the book. I feel like female characters were way stronger than males (the Giant woman, Stella, etc.) I didn’t quite get the story between the brothers, I thought I’d get more explanation about their relationship. Also the moment of Toby getting tattoos all over his body was lost  from me - I couldn’t understand neither the significance of it nor sense. Plot-wise it was ok for me. 

I am looking forward to see more work by Elizabeth Macneal.
Was this review helpful?
"Every writer, Nell thinks, is a thief and a liar."

What a hidden gem! Based on the cover alone, I wouldn't have necessarily picked this one up but I'm so glad I gave this one a try! Two brothers are risking it all and running a circus. Full of curiosities, they are traveling from town to town performing for small crowds. But one brother has big dreams and wants to get a truly amazing act and perform for the queen.

Nell is a small town girl curiositiy herself. Covered in a birthmarks, she's been shunned by her village and family alike. But once she joins the circus, she finds a new power and her hidden beauty. I loved Nell's growth as a character. I loved getting to know her and all the performs of the circus. I found Toby interesting and Jasper a bit frightening. I loved how you felt the rush of the crowds, the fear of the flying and unease around the animals. The ebb and flow of Jasper acquiring new acts and then selling others on a whim. You could just feel the fear and love of money. Every high and low of the story found me holding my breath and frantically turning pages. The ulimate conclusion was satisfying and all I had wanted it to be. This was such a fun, creative story.

A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.
Was this review helpful?
Circus of wonders was lovely and transportive. A story about self-discovery and empowerment in the face of adversity and well worth the read.
Was this review helpful?
I am a big fan of Elizabeth MacNeal! I loved her first book and this book was incredible too. I loved the old fashioned carnival aspects and the characters.
Was this review helpful?
this one was one for me. I love a carnival book, I really do. But here the characters just fell a little flat. I didn't connect with anyone and struggled to care about where the story was going because of it. My favorite part was probably the villain.
Was this review helpful?
Circus of Wonders seemed like it would be an interesting Victorian fantasy. However, this story was very dark. There were many disturbing scenes that made me uncomfortable. Still, I recommend this for fans of The Water Elephant!
Was this review helpful?
Circus of Wonders  was a book if wonders. Yet, as much as I enjoyed parts, it moreso fell flat for me. The story was very interesting and the author created a well formed world. I wished the writing was more complete. There were actions that happened that I didn't realize happen until a few sentences later. 

My other issue were the characters. None were very likeable or relatable. They all had some major personality flaws that created a disconnect with each other. 

Circus of Wonders was good and enjoyable. But the story or characters aren't too memorable.
Was this review helpful?
I was expecting this book to be up there with The Night Circus by the synopsis but, boy was I wrong. This book was far from anything I was hoping for. I did enjoy some of the characters and the magic system. However, the pace was extremely slow up until around the 200 page mark. At that point in the book, I really just wanted it to be over. I got attached to the characters towards the end of the book but, it wasn't enough to bring the enjoyment of the book up at all.
Was this review helpful?
How curious we are as a society. Elizabeth Macneal weaves a heartfelt story of love, loyalty and longing. Nell has birthmarks that cover her body which makes her different. People stare at her and she can't do anything about it. Or can she? It's 1860 in England and she is sold by her father to Jasper Jupiter's Circus of Wonders. It's here where she finds her strength along other's who are in this freak show. The author brings out what it means to be different and as a society how it makes one feel or believe in. Highly recommend this book.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed the Doll Factory so I was really excited to dive into Circus of Wonders! I think that Macneal does a fantastic job at painting vivid scenes both of the Circus and Crimea. She is a mastery of language, and weaves together her plot lines and her characters' stories with ease and delight. The themes in this book were also really top tier, discussing things like otherness, ownership of your destiny, and finding one's freedom. I enjoyed this one even more than The Doll Factory and Macneal is absolutely an author I will be returning to.
Was this review helpful?
In 1860 circus mania is sweeping the nation. And crowds jostle for the most thrilling of all the so-called "human wonder's."  #Circus of Wonders is a fun and entertaining novel. And so the story begins, in a poor coastal town. Nell, is sold to the ringmaster as the "leopard girl" and is utterly devastated.....
Thank you for the advance copy,
# Netgalley, # Elizabeth Macneal, and #Atria Books
Was this review helpful?
If you enjoyed "The Life She Was Given" by Ellen Marie Wiseman, you will enjoy this as well.  
When Nell's father sells her to the Jasper Jupiter's Circus of Wonders, her life goes from hiding in the shadows to being thrust in the spotlight.  She overcomes what could have been an obstacle to finding a community and a life for herself.  As with all the performers, this is a story of resilience and taking control of her life.  The women are strong and find their own power.
Was this review helpful?
Elizabeth Macneal does it again, creating a Victorian England fit for Dickens. 

There's a circus of wonders running in 1866, run by Jasper Jupiter. Just like P.T. Barnum, Jasper's circus is full of oddities and freaks. There's something wrong with Nellie's skin. She's speckled. She's called "Leopard Girl.". Her dad sells her to Jupiter for £20. At first, she's depressed, but then she figures out how to chart her own course. I love watching Nell get a sense of herself and gain confidence as she comes around. 

Jasper's brother, Toby, falls in love with Nell but can't see that she might love him too. 
Whenever I read historical fiction I always learn something. But I also want to be entertained. That's what this book does. 

In the Crimean War, Macneal shows us that "all history is fiction" and anything can be twisted to tell a story. The story deals with ownership, self-worth, jealousy, and family loyalty. It totally captures the times - the same age of discovery that led to scientific advancements also fuelled an interest in curiosities among rich and poor alike. 

I was engrossed in all the characters, good and bad, wondering how their stories would turn out.
Was this review helpful?
A story of how difference can be seen as a curse or as a blessing. Examines power, agency, celebrity, war, and so much more.  Thoroughly enjoyed this read.
Was this review helpful?
Stunningly well researched adn written a story that leaves you with alllll the feels. Happy, sad, hopeful and bereft. I love the writing.
Was this review helpful?