The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers is a fiction novel set in a fantastical world with just a little bit of mystery and romance. Sayers created a world that sucked me in, with beautiful writing and a plot that kept me guessing.
The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers
For over 80 years, there were rumors that a Secret Circus – le Cirque Secret – existed in Paris in the 1920s. A spectacular show of animals and acrobatics, circus tickets were delivered to a chosen few; the circus hidden from the uninvited. While there were rumors and stories from those that were lucky enough to attend, the circus’s existence was never confirmed. As far as anyone knows, there were no photographs or paintings, old tickets or posters… no material proof of that the circus was real. But it was never forgotten.
When Lara Barnes’s fiancé goes missing on her wedding day, her world is turned upside down. There are no viable leads – no evidence or witnesses – until almost a year later, when a mysterious man visits her and promises the truth about her fiancé’s disappearance if she’ll come to Paris and help him. With every step, Lara learns a little more about her family history, including their circus roots, and comes up with even more questions.
What happened to Lara’s fiancé? And what will the cost be of learning the truth?
I really loved this fictional novel. I picked it up on a whim and am so glad I did. There was mystery, magic, and romance – a little something for everyone and it totally sucked me in! The characters were diverse, the plot fast-paced, and the writing beautiful.
The characters: The two main characters are Lara (2004) and her great grandmother, Cecile (1925). The two are supported by a host of diverse and colorful characters – family, friends, and enemies. So many had powerful, emotion-evoking stories that it was hard to really dislike any of them, no matter how cruel they may be. But there were definitely characters I championed and those I pitied.
The Plot: The fast-paced story was creative and engaging, the switches between timelines flowing well. There were plenty of unexpected twists and turns to keep the reader guessing about what was going to come next.
The Writing: The descriptions in this story were beautiful, reminding me a bit of The Night Circus (and while also about a circus, that’s where the parallels ended for me). Wonderful, colorful descriptions, painting a clear picture for the reader of the fantastic world created within le Cirque Secret. I also appreciate that the dialog felt real, despite how fantastical elements of the story were.
I’m so glad that I picked this one up – it’s a great read.