The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda’s Voice. Here’s the rules:
*Grab a book, any book. Don’t grab your FAVOURITE book, but whatever is closest.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you’re reading.
Shadowplay (2nd book in Pantomime series)
By: Laura Lam
Published: January 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.
He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus—the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…
A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.
We didn’t run.
We kept to the shadows as we sneaked through the streets of Imachara.
We drifted closer to the puppet show. A gaggle of children too young for school set cross-legged, staring up in delight at the display. It was a shadow play – the puppets were wood carvings, their clothes cut from colored paper, their faces well painted. The show had already begun, but I recognized the political fairy tale that I loved during my childhood: “The Prince and the Owlish Man”. I watched the puppets act out the story against the late summer sun shining through the backdrop, losing myself in the tale to forget what I had just seen and couldn’t explain.
I realize that my picks are rather vague and do not go into much detail about what is happening in the scene but I want to keep as much of the story spoiler-free and encourage you all to buy the book and find out what is happening. Also cause this series is really good and worth a read!
I suppose I should start off with my reaction to the end of the book. Instead of throwing my book against the wall out of frustration of the ending, I went on Twitter to tweet Lam herself how I felt. Do not worry, I kept my rage spoiler-free but I felt that people would be entertained to see this. As a result of my venting, I discovered Lam’s plan for the series is to have six books, plus short story collections!! I am glad that this series will last longer than three books, as the ending of this book leaves a lot unresolved and it would cause the third book to feel very rushed with resolving the questions and storylines. Which would be a shame, and the opposite of how the pacing follows in Pantomime and Shadowplay. But with six books, it will give Lam time to unravel the story’s and character’s secrets and journeys.
If you read the first book, then you know that Shadowplay picks up immediately following the events of the previous book. Micah and Drystan are still on the run from the police officials because of the deaths at the circus and to bring in the runaway noble lady Gene Laurus. No longer do we go back in time to Gene’s past, as we did in the first book, since there is little to gain in terms of story or character development from looking back at a past we know at this point. Gene Laurus is dead to the readers and to Micah himself. Micah continues to mourn for the loss of his(??) girlfriend, regretting keeping his secrets from her up until the very end. He puts his faith in Drystan when they seek refuge with an old-acquaintance from his past. While hiding underneath the roof of Kymri Theatre, Micah continues to ask questions about who and what he is, but explores his budding, fragile relationship with Drystan.
Again, I am left with the awkwardness of not knowing what gender pronoun to use when referring to Micah in my review. In this book, Micah seems to have left behind the identity of Gene, not wanting to be feminine or female. Micah feels more feminine during his period, and absolutely hates it. To the guys reading this: There is no FUN in experiencing one’s mensuration cycle. It is really uncomfortable and your emotions really can be wild and out of control. But Micah does not wholly identify as being masculine or male either. Micah introduces himself as Micah Grey and that it is a boy’s name, allows others to assume that he is a boy, but does not use any gender pronouns. If the story was written from another character’s POV or from a third-person perspective, the reader would get one but even then it would not be completely accurate since even Micah does not completely know what he/she is. It seems awkward to refer to Micah as he/she constantly, and the masculine one is closer to the truth than feminine. The most accurate noun we get for Micah in the book is from the character Anisa when she refers to Micah as solely Kedi, an old word (from a long-forgotten past) for those who do not identify as solely male or female, whether it is in a physical or mental way. By the end of the story, this remains the most accurate term to describe Micah as Micah continues to be uncertain of his own gender. This lack in ability to assign a gender pronoun to Micah is frustrating when talking about the book/series/character, however it is not a negative for me as this frustration is tied to Micah’s character development.
Micah does not seem to be dealing with conflicting gender attraction, as in Pantomime. Here Micah seems certain in his attraction to the young runaway nobleman Drystan, but is uncertain of how to progress their relationship, still caring the feeling of shame of his body. Even when Micah is in the theatre with people who know the truth, he continues to wear a corset that binds his breasts, only to take it off at night when sleeping in his own bed. This shame, on top of Micah’s lover only recently dying and the memory of the last boy to reach to his body, causes Micah to not know how to move ahead in his feelings over Drystan. The moments in the book when their relationship does take centre stage are small and quiet, yet moving and powerful at the same time. When it does come to the front of our attentions, it does not feel like it is pushing the main story (Micah and his self-discovery of self, gender, and sexual identity) to the side or overtake it. It does not surface at inappropriate moments, as in some stories. In the small moments that Drystan and Micah do have to themselves, they do get to explore the physical side of their relation but those moments are even fewer and in brief detail for the reader. As a reader, it feels awkward for me to read about their more intimate moments with each other, that I should look away and give them the privacy they deserve with one another.
While we are introduced to new characters, such as Cyan and Maske, learn more about Drystan and Anisa and meet Doctor Pozzi, I get the feeling that there are still secrets and deeper motivations to be revealed from Cyan and Drystan, especially from Anisa and Doctor Pozzi. These characters seem to have the most information and knowledge concerning the mysteries behind Micah, and I do not fully trust them. Probably Anisa less since she is an ageless spirit from an era long past and has shown Micah many memories of her past. She claims to want to help guide and mentor Micah, claims Micah as her charge, and yet I trust her as much as I trust Crowley (from Supernatural). She seems to have ulterior motives then helping young children and has shown some signs of duplicity when helping Micah. I am also not all too sure about Cyril. While I do not doubt his love for his sibling Micah, I have the feeling he may not be entirely trustworthy as he could betray Micah and his friends. He is a good person, there is no question about it but he only knows a life of nobility, he is unaware of the struggling and truths outside of that life. The introduction of the Forester Party (to the reader) and the reveal of political uneasiness in Ellada feels like it will change many of the characters, especially Micah as he himself is uncertain what to believe and who to believe in these political groups.
Well, I feel like I have talked enough about Shadowplay. Time for you folks to go out and read this wonderful story. And please resist the urge to throw your books out of frustration when you get to the cliff-hanger at the end. Unless Lam is around, then perhaps you could throw it at her. It is only fair, she deserves it after all 😉
As always, leave your comments bellow. It can make for great discussion. We can even talk about what we think will happen in the next book.