I was so intrigued by the concept of this book. It follows two magicians who are pitted against each other in a mysterious competition when they’re children. The competition doesn’t begin until they’re older and takes place in a circus, each of them creating new parts of the circus as part of the contest. They’re not really sure of the exact rules and Celia doesn’t even know who her competitor (Marco) is for a long time. However, during the course of their battle, they create increasingly wonderous circus tents for each other, and they fall in love. But of course, only one of them can win, and the stakes are high.
I really enjoyed the wonder of the circus, the marriage of the usual types of things you’d find in a circus with magic, and the peripheral characters who follow the circus around. I liked the concept and wide variety of magic types, with tarot cards, exceptional abilities, and the eccentricity that is somehow inevitable with close proximity to these things.
I liked a lot about the book, but for me it didn’t progress as I’d hoped it would, and the romance was a bit of a non-starter. They fell in love in an extremely abstract way, and we’re never really given all that much insight in to the motivations of the characters. I think the author may have done this on purpose to maintain an air of mystery, but for me it just meant I couldn’t connect that deeply with the characters or the story. Also, the ending wasn’t as momentous as I’d hoped it would be, and the timeline in the book jumps all over the place, which I found quite confusing.
It was an interesting concept but it frustrated me in places, so for me a 3 star read.