Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The palace of laughter



The Palace of laughter
The palace of laughter
Jon Berkeley

This book started off really strongly. I love a circus story, especially one with a sinister edge and this one had sinister in droves. The creepy clowns, tattooed giantess, battle scarred ringmaster and the mysterious creature called the Null. I was hooked and devoured the first two hundred pages almost immediately.

The problems started around the halfway point however and the book quickly ran out of steam. It fell into the wizard of oz format, the characters making a journey, bumping into interesting character after interesting character until they reach their goal. I’ve no problems with that format but here it simply didn’t work. The journey is supposed to lead the characters and the reader to the interesting part of the book, we all want to get to the emerald city. Here, it felt as if the journey was taking us away from the interesting part. As much as I wanted to learn what the palace of laughter was and wanted the characters to get there, I felt my time in the Circus Oscuro was all too brief. I wanted them to go back and have more adventures in the circus itself.
The characters that they meet aren’t even all that interesting and more than once I found myself wishing they would go and I could just get on with the next chapter.

I also had trouble placing the book. At first I thought it was set in a pseudo-Victorian era but later into the novel there are some hints that it’s a more modern world. A little more time could have been dedicated to fleshing out the world and giving the reader a decent grounding.

There was a lot of good things in this book though, don’t get me wrong. The main characters were fun and I cared about them, the circus stuff was great and the hints of the mythology surrounding the angels was interesting, making me want to learn more about their world. The book is the first in a trilogy and while I didn’t fully enjoy this book, I’d still consider reading the next in the series just to learn a bit more info about all of these things.

I’d recommend giving this one a go if you stumble across it. It’s decent with some good moments, I wouldn’t urge you to seek it out though.

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