Shadowplay by Laura Lam
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.
*Received in exchange for an honest review*
*Thanks goes to Strange Chemistry*
*May contain spoilers for Pantomime*
Ahhhhh I loved this book! Having read and really enjoyed Pantomime I was so eager to get my hands on Shadowplay. I don't think I've quite calmed myself down enough to be writing this review yet. It felt like such a different book from Pantomime yet so similar. I really enjoyed Laura's first book but this one blasted it straight out of the water. It's in this book that I fully fell in love with Micah and Drystan, Cyan and Maske. I feel like I've left some best friends behind in the pages of Shadowplay and I hope that we will be reunited in the future.
Shadowplay picks up where Pantomime left off - Micah and Drystan are in hiding following the death of Bil. They're wanted for his murder but Shadows are also stalking Micah in order to return him to his home as Lady Iphigenia Laurus. They seek refuge with the once great magician, Jasper Maske. Shocking and thrilling events unfold which keep readers on their toes and wondering about what is to come next for these characters. I often found myself with yet another case of 'just one more chapter...' whenever I went to put the book down with so many chapters endings urging you to read on. I really couldn't get enough of Micah's story.
Laura's second novel draws in more the fantasy feel with further introductions to the chimera and the future that faces Micah. It was so thrilling to be drawn so entirely into this world. I felt like this place existed as I was reading it, and felt disappointed yet relieved (to an extent) that it doesn't. With certain characters with such powers unfurling, I'm really excited to see where Lam takes this. I loved seeing the developments in the relationships between Micah and Drystan, and I also loved seeing the budding friendship of our four protagonists - in particular, the mysterious Cyan. This book held so much emotion and excitement - it really is an unputdownable read.
The further exploration of Micah as an intersex character was so interesting to me as a past MA student and I found myself wishing that I could go back to write an essay on both Pantomime and Shadowplay. Laura handles the topic of the discrimination and repression of those that are intersex so well and sensitively. Micah's anxiety, worries and attempts to look for explanations are so heartfelt and emotional. Micah is constantly searching for answers as to why he was born the way he is. I found this so difficult to read; to see a character that has had the notion that to be intersex is to be unnatural so deeply ingrained that he can't see how beautiful he truly is. How being intersex is entirely normal and natural. It's the first series that I've read that deals with this issue and it's done beautifully.
I adored this book. Shadowplay is thrilling, page-turning, captivating and so emotional. I couldn't put it down. With the promise of a gaslight fantasy, Laura Lam certainly doesn't let us down. Props to you, Laura - I loved it!