Review: The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

Synopsis and Details:

Paris, 1925: To enter the Secret Circus is to enter a world of wonder – a world where women tame magnificent beasts, carousels take you back in time, and trapeze artists float across the sky. But each daring feat has a cost. Bound to her family’s strange and magical circus, it’s the only world Cecile Cabot knows – until she meets a charismatic young painter and embarks on a passionate love affair that could cost her everything.

Virginia, 2005: Lara Barnes is on top of the world – until her fiancé disappears on their wedding day. Desperate, her search for answers unexpectedly leads to her great-grandmother’s journals and sweeps her into the story of a dark circus and a generational curse that has been claiming payment from the women in her family for generations.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism  |  Release Date: March 23, 2021  |  Publisher: Redhook  |  Length: 464  |  ISBN: 978-0316493673  |  ASIN: B08CDGWSCD  |  Format: Hardcover  |  Source: Purchased

Review with Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Ladies of the Secret Circus is a story told through modern day events, recollections, and journals. The ideas and storytelling that went into to this story were truly fascinating. I will eagerly admit to that. Also, this story has been compared to The Night Circus and I can see the similarities but, in my opinion, the comparisons missed the mark, I am sorry to say. 

Which is such a shame because of all the lovely elements that went into creating this tale. There was drama, murder, magical realism, mystery, and tragedy. Also, a chilling family legacy that had very deep roots in the occult. I should have loved this story and be shouting about it from the rooftops. 

Unfortunately for me, I was sixty-five pages into reading this book and found myself wondering where the draw was?! I did not feel compelled to keep reading, although I did, and that was very disheartening. I wasn’t truly drawn in emotionally and even my curiosity was not naturally piqued.

I felt little during this book for the characters except for moments of true sacrifice, those kinds of moments always get to me. I did not feel the passion or excitement that was exhibited. I was not drawn in with my every breath, nor my heart ripped in two with the reveals, and I should have been. The magic was there, it just did not reach me. 

I asked myself if it was because I had my hopes set on something akin to The Night Circus? A story I love and hold dear. Was I so disappointed about its lack of similarities that I became disenchanted with The Ladies of the Secret Circus?! The answer is no, honestly, no. Would I considering reading another story from this author? That answer would be a resounding yes. The storytelling in The Ladies of the Secret Circus was nicely crafted and I would hope that next time I would be drawn in and reach new levels of connection in a future story.

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About the Author:

Constance Sayers is the author of the #1 Amazon best-selling novel,  A Witch in Time (2020 Redhook/Hachette) as well as The Ladies of the Secret Circus (2021 Redhook/Hachette) that received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.  

A finalist for Alternating Current’s 2016 Luminaire Award for Best Prose, her short stories have appeared in Souvenir and Amazing Graces: Yet Another Collection of Fiction by Washington Area Women as well as The Sky is a Free Country. Her short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

She received her master of arts in English from George Mason University and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of arts in writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She attended The Bread Loaf Writers Conference where she studied with Charles Baxter and Lauren Groff. A media executive, she’s twice been named one of the “Top 100 Media People in America” by Folio and included in their list of “Top Women in Media.”

She lives outside of Washington DC. Like her character in The Ladies of the Secret Circus, she was the host of a radio show from midnight to six.

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The Ladies of the Secret Circus


Categories: Published in 2021, Review

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