Member Reviews

I had to DNF this one because it feels like three books, sewn into one, and each is given the shallow treatment with scant exposition and description for scaffolding. The story of Edward and Ruth is one story, a terrifying tale of an abusive magic propped up by a horrifying magical power in possession of the abuser. Very compelling if it were the whole book. The second story is about three women time traveling hoping to change a terrible future. That could also make a whole book but here it seems like an interruption. The third story (and the one I really wanted to read) was about different identities of fascinating characters in a magical circus including two gifted children whom the ringmaster wants to save and help them find a home in the circus.

Many trusted friends highly recommended this, and I think the writing and characters are both good, but this is both too much and too little at the same time for my tastes.

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I received an advanced copy via NetGalley.

<i>The First Bright Thing</i> delves into its 1920s setting and circus life to follow Rin, the Ringmaster of a circus that consists of Sparks--people with diverse magical abilities. The phenomenon emerged during the Great War, with no explanation of how or why. Rin can travel to different places and through time, while her trapeze-artist wide Odette has a healing touch. Their circus travels the Midwest, seeking to help people with each show--but they are shadowed by the stalking Circus King, an ominous figure from Rin's past.

The found family theme is strong and beautiful in this book, and the characters need that loving support, as this book delves into some disturbing darkness, mostly of the psychological variety. This one really does require a Trigger Warning straight-up because of the severe abuse it depicts. Through it all, though, there is a prevailing sense of hope. Rin is a Jewish woman, and discussion of her childhood faith and the concept of mitzvah come up often and fit beautifully within this world.

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4/10

A lot of work went in to writing the 350 pages in this fantasy fiction novel. I understand the effort and sacrifice that goes into creating a novel like this, so I hate to trash it.

Yet here we go anyway.

I was intrigued by the story - essentially a group of XMen-like people (humans with unique and extraordinary powers) creates a traveling circus. There’s the shapeshifter, the dreamweaver, the time traveler, etc.

Could be interesting, eh?

The story primarily takes place in 1926, between World Wars I and II, and there is a bit of time travel to each. It follows the Ringmaster (Rin, for short) and her struggles. One of her biggest struggles is with the Circus King. Enter evil villain.

The circus king has a competing circus. His secret power is the ability to control peoples minds and have them do horrendous things. He is angry at Rin and wants to destroy her.

Ok, that’s the story. Here are my problems.

The writing is pedantic and often times confusing. There are so many extra words in this book that you could remove entire chapters without impacting anything that happens in the story. In fact, this book should be 200 pages long, it might make it better.

Truthfully there’s not a lot that happens in this story. No dramatic twists and turns, nothing you don’t expect. It’s just grueling chapter after grueling chapter in which Rin is describing that she’s scared of the Circus King.

There is little to no emotional connection made between the reader and the characters. I don’t care about any of them. Well, I take that back. The evil Circus King is the most interesting of the characters. It’s super easy to despise him. As for the others? I will forget them all in a day or two.

There is also a lot of emphasis put on WW II, as if the entire destruction of humanity will occur because of the war. Spoiler alert, we know a lot of people died but all of humanity wasn’t destroyed because of the war.

I’m still not clear why there was this entire long section in which they tried to avoid WWII occurring because they thought it would kill every human, but when they couldn’t stop it, they suddenly didn’t think it would kill everybody anymore so just dropped the subject.

All in all, this was a huge struggle to finish. I pushed through because I wanted to be fair to NetGalley and the author, but I can’t in my right mind recommend this book for anybody.

If you want a good fantasy, go read Mistborn. It’s twice as long of a book, but feels half the effort to read.

#netgalley #thefirstbrightthing

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Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

The First Bright Thing by J. R. Dawson is a lovely circus-based adult fantasy. The story revolves around Rin, a ringmaster at a circus for freaks and misfits. Inside their magical circus, viewers can see powers beyond their imagination. But when a rival circus appears with its evil ringmaster, Rin realizes that she will have to fight for everything she has in order to save her found family. The evil ringmaster will not stop until he has take everything from her.

Here is a magical excerpt from Chapter 1, which is from the Ringmaster's point of view:

"The Spark Circus always arrived when no one was looking, early in the morning. The well-worn train snuck onto the tracks right outside of town, as the birds woke and the dawn broke through the sleepy shadows of Midwestern trees in the early mist.
Train spotters always seemed to miss the train’s approach, until it was nearly upon them, appearing in a blink and charging into town, the cars all the way back, red and gold and blue with the name written along the side: WINDY VAN HOOTEN’S CIRCUS OF THE FANTASTICALS. The last two cars were purple and gold with flowers painted on their thick sturdy wood siding, the windows laced with red curtains."

Overall, The First Bright Thing is an adult historical fantasy that will appeal to fans of The Night Circus and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. One highlight of this book is the LGBT representation. I was surprised that Rin has a wife already who is a central side character. We don't often see established LGBT relationships in fantasy books. Another highlight of this book is the intriguing premise. When I read about the good circus and the bad circus, it definitely made me want to read this book right away.

At first, I thought that the flashback perspective would be just filler, but I actually ended up enjoying the flashback perspective more than the one happening in the present. If I had to complain about 1 thing, I would say that the book was a bit long at 400 pages. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of adult fantasy in general, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in June!

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This book was alright. I do love myself circus stories, but unfortunately, it wasn’t a favorite. I didn’t find myself drawn into the story, and I didn’t like much of the characters. There were definitely interesting parts, but mostly, for me, it fell pretty flat.

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Sometimes I read books where the characters have magical abilities, but they use their abilities to do trivial things like have glossy hair. (Okay, I know glossy hair is important, lord knows I've spent enough on argon oil, but it's less important than world peace.) But the characters in The First Bright Thing are working for world peace! Yay! Unfortunately, they bite off more than they can chew. If world peace were easy, we'd have it by now.

Usually I like detailed descriptions, and there are many lovely descriptions in The First Bright Thing. Occasionally the novel seemed long to me. There were many things I liked about it. The misfits because of their magical abilities came together to make a beautiful circus, but they also made a beautiful family who took care of each other. And although the nonmagical public wanted to exterminate those with the "spark," the sparks went out of their way to help troubled people. There are strong women and strong female friendships. Except for the abusive husband that the protagonist Rin is fleeing from, the female and male characters are equal to each other and good friends to one another.

Notice, too, that the first bright thing can stand for more than one thing or person. One bright thing in the story is dreadful and ghastly. while other bright things are helpful and awe-inspiring. Well, the bad bright thing is awe-inspiring but not in a good way. In the long run, the circus performers realize that bringing happiness to the world is their true magic.

A big thank you to Tor and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review The First Bright Thing.

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If you are a fan of the night circus you will love this! This is very much its own work but still filled with the magic and a strong voice. I was completely absorbed into this book!

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Magical circus? Found family? QUEER?! Getting this ARC from NetGalley was one of my happiest moments and I’m so grateful for getting this book so early!

While this was a slower moving book and I’m an extremely impatient reader, I happily enjoyed every second of this book. It's beautiful, it's heartwarming, it's magic. This story was like drinking a cup of hot tea on a cold day. It warms the soul. You know I'm a sucker for the found family trope and oh my goodness I have never wanted to be part of a found family so bad than I do here!

I loved how sentences would cut off at the end of a chapter and finish at the start of the next chapter. It kept me enraptured until I'd look up and realize it was 1am! I really appreciated how realistic this book was, in spite of being a fantasy story. Rin's struggles with addiction and being queer and Jewish in a time where it wasn't accepted was hard but necessary to read. Absolutely breathtaking, thank you again to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC!

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This was such a weird book.

Firstly, the writing is so bland and all over the place, and is desperately in need of an editor. Next, the characters were so meh and stale, I wanted to stop reading as soon as I started. Time travel is fun but this book made it so boring that I had to stop reading and pick something actually good, which is anything except this book. The plot and pacing were slow, but I thought it would get better, it didn't. I would not recommend this unless you want to fall asleep.

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I am blown away by Dawsons creativity and talent, a debut that can encompass so many valuable themes and lessons and still be readable, developed and well crafted in imagery and character growth, bravo.

This felt like x-men, but it’s a circus, oh and it’s historical fiction, and let’s throw in lots queer representation.

Post WWI many people in the world begin developing special powers or as they call them “sparks” and while the world has come to coexist with sparks and humans they are often ostracized and rejected. Rin our bad ass, time jumping, lesbian, ring leader has created a circus that is a safe haven for sparks who are running from something. But as she is jumping through time and transporting her circus from places it is most needed she see a glimmer of a future strife with war once again. Can Rin find a loop hole to stop future catastrophe?

This is definitely a darker story, there is trigger warnings to be aware of like alcoholism, gaslighting, murder, racism. But each difficult theme is written in such a way that offers a deep sense of understanding and healing, or offers plot devices that make the story interesting and diverse.

Found family has always been a favourite theme of mine and this book has heaps and heaps of it, I loved the idea of rescuing those who need it but allowing the healing on their own terms.

While there are some jumping timelines and two alternating plots taking place I felt the story was rather easy to understand and the only issue I found was I wanted a bit more development of our villain I just didn’t quite believe his motives, but his character overall is a blip in comparison to Rin and the circus.

A great book for fantasy or sci fi lovers looking for something special and fresh.

Big thank you to @netgalley and @torbooks for the advanced copy all opinions are my own.

Release date is June 13!

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This was confusing and really felt like it was trying too hard to be something specific, like the author was trying to emulate a style that’s not their own, and it wasn’t working for me at all.

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A fantasy book that strives to keep the information about "the sparks" - a magical force that grants people powers - mysterious for a little too long in the book... Some parts lost me as the story rambles a bit.

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It wasn't as good as I had hoped it would be.

I mean, it wasn't /bad/, it just wanted to grab all, and may as well lost all. I've seen it compared to Night Circus in a few reviews, which fortunately has nothing to do with it, but it didn't make my heart skip a beat either way. The most interesting point of the book is that we can watch the antagonist becoming the antagonist in close-up, and I also liked the abusive/manipulative relationship dynamics, it was authentic. Everything else… eh.

It's a time-traveling X-Men in circus story set in the twenties, and somehow it didn't get interesting??? None of the main trio of ladies managed to catch my attention for long, as I found them kinda bland, but my rating dropped for a certain fact: Rin and her mitzvah storyline. The thing is, two thing collided with her: I avoid reading WW2 stories in general, and I feel frustraterd whenever I try to find novels about Jews, 90% of the time I end up in WW2 books (especially in my native language, which is not English). You can imagine my dislike when I realized it will be the case here as well.

I still dont understand how this book didn't manage to grab me as I hoped it would. It's even queer!

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Wow. What a magical read!

I really don't know how to describe this book or even how to collect my thoughts about it. It was definitely a ....magical realism historical fiction? Rather than a true fantasy- which is something I love.

The book at its heart follows Rin, who runs a magical circus and clearly has a troubled past. I found the 'twist' rather obvious, but I suspect that was intentional.

The queer relationships in this book were wonderful, and it had a lot of commentary on abuse of power and misogyny in relationships. I also loved the discussions of how to make change in the world.

4.5 - definitely one I want on my shelves!!

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This was the magic circus I have been craving ever since I finished The Night Circus. I've read the Caraval series by Stephanie Garber but it just didn't hit the mark for me. However, the circuses (even the one run by The Circus King) in The First Bright Thing were exactly what I wanted and imagined what I would want a magic circus to look like.

The character development of Rin was astounding and tragic and beautiful all wrapped up into one. How she goes from a teenager figuring out her Spark to an older woman completely at ease with who she is, it's truly remarkable. I loved the villainy of Edward even more and enjoyed his development as well. How his Spark could've truly been used for good, but instead he leaned towards the darkness.

*Spoilers*

The only thing I wasn't impressed with was the ending. To have Rin bring Edward back to where she first grabbed/saved him seemed so cruel and completely out of character for her. She always leaned towards the good, the light and this action of bringing him back to the place that he was so terrified of and clearly had PTSD from, it was cruel. No matter what Edward did throughout the book, I did not think he deserved an ending like that. I hated that ending so much that it made me dislike Rin and not want her to have a happy ending either. It really bothered me that she tortured Edward the way he did.

Maybe that was the author's intention, maybe not. Regardless, the book still gets a 5 out of 5 stars for me. The character development was impeccable and one of the most clever circus plots I've ever read. Well done J.R. Dawson!!

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My thanks to NetGalley and Tor Publishing. J. R. Dawson has written an amazing book that doesn't need comparisons to other books; it stands completely on its own magical merits quite well, thank you very much. Loved it!

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Of all the books I DNFed this month, The First Bright Thing was definitely the one I was most excited for. And I think a lot of people are going to love it! For very good reasons! But for me, it just didn’t click.

Alarm bells started ringing with the very first line of the book;

<The Spark Circus always arrived when no one was looking, early in the morning.>

It’s hard to believe that that’s not an intentional reference to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, since the first line of that is

<The circus arrives without warning.>

That’s a pretty well-known line – I’ve seen it on prints, enamel pins, clothing, cups, journals, everything. It’s difficult for me to imagine a fantasy author – especially a fantasy author writing about a magical circus! – is unaware of The Night Circus. That book was a global phenomenon even outside the SFF community. So the first line of The First Bright Thing doesn’t feel like an accident.

I’m not accusing Dawson of plagiarism – that would be nonsensical, that’s clearly not what this is. It could be a respectful/happy homage to The Night Circus; it could simply be a nod of recognition to a book that did the Magic Circus trope before The First Bright Thing (but then, so did dozens if not hundreds or thousands of other books???); it could be a way of saying ‘yes, I’m walking in Erin Morgenstern’s footsteps’ (but then, again, also the footsteps of many, many other storytellers, so???) It might be that someone along the line suggested to Dawson that crafting a first line that echoed that of The Night Circus might help draw in fans of that book, might be a good idea.

I don’t think it was. I think it was a really, really bad idea. Why would you want readers immediately comparing The First Bright Thing to The Night Circus (any more than they already will, I mean, because Magic Circus)? It’s generally agreed that The Night Circus is an especially beautiful book, both in terms of prose style and imagery, and the nostalgia factor has gilded the memory of a book most fans probably haven’t reread in a while. That’s not something you want people measuring your book up against!

And besides, The First Bright Thing is different to The Night Circus in…almost every single way? They both feature magic circuses. That’s it. So if your goal is to draw in Morgenstern’s fans and make them hopeful that they’re going to get another book like The Night Circus…they’re not going to? And they will be disappointed? And more likely to judge The First Bright Thing negatively, because they’re (unconsciously, I’m pretty sure) now viewing it as a poor imitation of one of their favourite books, rather than judging it on its own merits???

Am I overthinking this? Quite possibly.

For me, that first line struck a sour note, both because I find it uncomfortable for a book to echo another book this way (I’m sure it’s not meant this way, but I can’t help but feel that it’s somehow rude?) and because the phrasing is kind of clunky (especially in comparison to the neat, simple elegance of ‘The circus arrives without warning.’)

The phrasing – writing – turned out to be my big issue with The First Bright Thing, the reason I quit before finishing it. It’s not that Dawson is a bad writer, but I would have sent this manuscript back for another round of polishing, because quite lovely lines are juxtaposed with very awkward ones that break the writing rhythm. The former make it clear that Dawson has the ability to be great; the latter just…grated.

Take this paragraph, which comes near the end of the first chapter;

<Some circuses didn’t allow audience members on the main floor after the show, but Rin liked to watch the crowd poke at the props and set pieces, trying to spot any tricks up the circus’s sleeves. It was part of the nightly ritual; to watch from the wings as the audience spilled onto the floor like the end of a baseball game, intoxicated and invigorated by what they’d just witnessed. Real magic was a strong drink to take in.>

See, I think most of that paragraph is great! The baseball game imagery works! I get what it means! …And then there’s that line at the end. ‘Real magic was a strong drink to take in.’ I think I understand what Dawson is trying to say, but it’s just phrased very clumsily, and I don’t think it mixes well with the baseball game imagery. It’s also unnecessary to getting the point of the paragraph across. I would have cut it, personally.

There are a lot of lines like that, lines that are clunky, and sometimes outright confusing or unclear. Usually, said lines are trying to express something very meaningful and poignant – and there are a good number of times when Dawson gets it right, and those moments pack punch! But it’s jarring when it goes wrong, and it goes wrong a lot, and it’s like listening to someone playing music when they keep hitting the wrong notes – I keep twitching, and I absolutely cannot relax and enjoy myself, regardless of how many boxes the book’s premise and description tick for me.

<No war, no Circus King would touch this. She could do this. She could protect them all. When Odette had met her, years ago, Rin had been nothing but hard armor. She’d tried so hard to let it go, to let them all into her heart, to believe no shadows would follow her. The world had carried on, and now, in 1926, people knew the future would be bright. It had to be. Nothing could be as bad as what had come before.>

This reads like it should be three separate paragraphs; we have a) Rin’s desire to protect, b) Rin’s difficulty letting people in – and then it jumps to c) the world having carried on. It jumps from topic to topic in a way that doesn’t work for me; it feels jerky and random, not smoothly flowing the way it ought to.

A few more examples, lines or images that didn’t make sense or didn’t work for me;

<“I can hold the weight I need to hold,” Rin said solidly. Like she’d formed cement bricks along her bones, burying whatever was beneath and fortifying her to move forward.>

Bricks along her bones?

<a man called Ford, who could change his voice to sound however he’d like.>

<the way the backstage crew worked like something between a ballet dance and a clock.>

You can see what is trying to be said here! It’s so close! The phrasing just needs tweaking.

<“Tonight!” she sounded. “Tonight you will see things you never thought you would live to see! You will realize that in this world, there are dreams that are only just out of reach.”>

That…is not the optimistic speech you think it is? What??? Why would you tell them about dreams that are out of reach? And ‘tonight you will see things you never thought you would live to see’…that would make sense if you were time-travelling from the future, I guess? Otherwise, I don’t understand???

<“This circus is a way to hide?” Jo said.

“No,” the Ringmaster said, calmly. “No, we do much good here. Empires have always underestimated artists. And it works in our favor. It makes us powerful. No one expects us to change teh world, and so we do.>

Amazing mission statement, but not at all an answer to the question? Is this a way to hide? No, we do much good here. Those two points aren’t related to each other. I think I see what the Ringmaster is trying to say, but it’s frustrating.

<He was one of many calcified children who had to grow up too fast. And Jo was one of many invisible girls trying to disappear into the cracks of the world.>

…I think I get what you’re trying to say here, but calcified anything can’t grow, and invisible people don’t need to disappear? Because they’re already invisible? What???

But then we get lines like this, which are simply *chef’s kiss*

<It made this downtown an industrial otherworld; one foot in progress and the other in prairie.>

I LOVE that! That is an amazing line! You immediately get what it’s saying, the image is fantastic, and I am an ardent fan of alliteration. Perfect!

<It was now time to add the pathos to the logos and ethos.>

Genius!

<This girl was sitting on a precipice and she could fall or she could fly. Maybe Rin could build her a bridge…>

Brilliant!

So while I was majorly frustrated by the clunky lines, there is a lot here for readers to like – and I know I’m incredibly picky when it comes to writing style, which is why I included so many examples; if the lines that make me twitch don’t bother you? Then you can, obviously, ignore that whole part of my critique.

I did have a few more problems with this book, though. Very quickly, we learn that the purpose of the circus – this particular circus, I mean – is to find people who ‘need something in their life’ and customise each night’s performance for that one visitor they foresee attending. And those visitors then walk away with hope or courage or resolve or whatever it is they needed.

I just…immediately didn’t buy that. Because I don’t see how even the most incredible circus could do that. A thing of beauty, including all kinds of performance art, can absolutely inspire, and fill people with powerful emotion. But the idea that every night, this circus changes someone’s life? What kind of performances are you giving? What are you doing? I mean in practical, literal terms, what are you doing? How do you change/edit/customise the acts so that this night, you will fill someone with courage they’ll carry with them forever, and the next night, hope? What do the clowns do differently on a courage night, as opposed to a hope night?

(In fairness, maybe there would have been more detail on this further on in the book – I stopped a third of the way through. But given how this entire explanation of their mission is info-dumped on the reader, I’m not betting on it.)

So the premise of the circus itself immediately didn’t make sense to me – I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough, I guess – but there are also bits of the worldbuilding that made me frown, like the law that says Sparks and not-Sparks will just…leave each other the fuck alone. The government will happily use people with magical powers in war, and civilians will hand over their Spark kids or spouses to sanitoriums that allegedly try to cure them, but – look, I am extremely Tired of the idea that the government would want mutants/magic users/Sparks registered and tracked or whatever, but I find it impossible to believe that the government – the American government specifically – would decide that the best course was agreeing to mutual non-interference. Not kicking them out of the country, not conscripting them, not requiring them to be registered, not trying to kill them, just a ‘you do your thing and we will do yours and neither side will start trouble with the other’. Especially when we see how many non-Sparks really, properly hate and fear Sparks.

I don’t buy it. And – what does that mean? Are Sparks still citizens? Can they vote? Is there a separate legal system for them, are there Spark police who investigate crimes involving Sparks? Can Sparks enter into contracts with non-Sparks? I did not get answers to any of this in the first third of the book, and I got the vibe I wasn’t going to get any if I pushed through, either. (But who knows? I could be wrong about that.)

Finally, the descriptions of the actual circus acts – which should really be dripping in gorgeous descriptive prose – are very inconsistent, swinging between dull and mechanical

<Odette spun around right ways up, then did a figure-eight foot lock with a fan kick, arabesque, fan kick, arabesque, hold as she spun. Then Odette did a Russian climb and somehow even made that look both graceful and difficult.>

and something that comes close to what I wanted out of these scenes.

<She walked across a tightrope, grabbed one of her lyras, and balanced with the power of an athlete and the poise of a princess, her thighs and feet and fingers slowly turning and contorting around the circle high in the sky.>

That second paragraph – which comes right after the first! – is wonderful; it’s emotive, now I know what I’m supposed to be feeling, and I have something to picture. The vibe of wonder, which is absolutely necessary for a magic circus, is there! But the first paragraph? I don’t know what those terms mean, and even if I did, it’s such a dry way of describing what Odette is doing here. This beautiful, presumably very impressive thing is boring because the prose isn’t up to the task of conveying it.

Eventually, I just couldn’t take the see-sawing between bad lines and good any more. I got very tired of all the telling, and while I liked the characters individually, I didn’t believe in their established relationships with each other. The book makes major use of a kind of magic/supernatural ability I particularly dislike – the whole story hinges on it, really – the dialogue felt scripted, and poorly scripted at that…

Nope. This one just isn’t for me. Alas.

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Every time I hear the words “queer magic circus book”, I am automatically compelled to try and get my hands on it as soon as possible. Naturally, when I heard J.R. Dawson’s THE FIRST BRIGHT THING described with these words, I knew I had to check it out. While inconsistent with its pacing at points, overall THE FIRST BRIGHT THING presents a deeply moving, often painful, ultimately cathartic read sure to captivate fans of historical fantasy.

Ringmaster, or Rin, leads a circus full of outcast performers; many of these performers have special magical abilities and are known as Sparks, which is often the reason they have been pushed to the fringes of society. Along with her wife Odette, Rin and the circus travel across the nation in the wake of World War I and offer entertainment to all who enter the Big Top. But no matter how far her time jumping can take her, Rin cannot outrun the shadows of her own past—including a rival ringmaster with a dark circus all his own.

THE FIRST BRIGHT THING offers lyrical prose and intricate structure from the beginning. Because Rin has the power to manipulate time, there are several interwoven time periods within the novel. For all the warmth, camaraderie, and support found in Rin’s circus and the novel as a whole, it is definitely not a light read. World War II serves as a prominent backdrop of this novel and all the atrocities thereof. In addition, elements of intimate partner abuse feature heavily, specifically intense and distressing levels of gaslighting.

Rather than talk too much about the plot which is best experienced as it unfolds, I will say the comps of The Night Circus and Addie LaRue do this novel justice; I could see strong elements of both in THE FIRST BRIGHT THING. Additionally, I would add in X-Men as a strong influence. The magical abilities and political ramifications of being a Spark are quite similar at points to some stories explored in the X-Men universe.

I loved how diverse this novel was. Rin is a Jewish, sapphic protagonist; both of these facets of her identity play an active, integral part in the novel. Though no specific age is given, it can be assumed Rin is middle-aged or older, which is exceedingly rare in the protagonist of a fantasy novel. Other prominent side characters such as Rin’s wife Odette, their mutual beloved friend Mauve, young hotshot Josephine Reed, and more are also a delight. Many, many characters have a queer identity and the found family element of the circus is an absolute delight.

If you enjoyed The Night Circus or The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, THE FIRST BRIGHT THING is definitely worth checking out when it releases on June 13, 2023. Rin and her extraordinary circus will sweep you up into a magical, sensational atmosphere and take you on an unforgettable journey.

Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for an advance review copy. All opinions are my own.

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Four friends have stolen aboard the Titanic. They're after the Rubaiyat - a book inlaid with priceless jewels. Josefa is a charismatic thief, Hinnah a daring acrobat, Violet an outstanding actress and Emilie a talented artist.

It is Josefa's plan, but she needs all of their skills. Despite their very different backgrounds, in a world of first-class passengers and suspicious crew members, the girls must work together to pull off the heist of their lives.

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I was initially concerned that this would be too similar to The Night Circus, however, I found it thoroughly enjoyable!
The time travel element was unique and well thought out. I absolutely love Rin as the female lead character, she is one of the most unique characters I’ve read in a book in a long time
Some of the time traveling and switching POVs was a little confusing however I would still highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys circus theme books

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