Review: Pantomime – Laura Lam

Review: Pantomime – Laura LamPantomime by Laura Lam
Series: Micah Grey #1
Published by Tor on November 17th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 386
Format: paperback
Goodreads

In a land of lost wonders, the past is stirring once more . . .

Gene's life resembles a debutante's dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities - last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as 'Micah Grey', Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight - but the circus has a dark side. She's also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

Pantomime by Laura Lam is another book I bought at Dutch Comic Con. I exchanged my homemade cookies for an autograph. I hadn’t heard of the books before and Lam was there to promote her other series (False Hearts) which just had a book release. It was Micah Grey’s story that my eye, however.

Micah Grey is sixteen years old and both male and female. I love this perspective since I haven’t read a book with an intersex main character before. In Pantomime Micah Grey struggles with both his genders and sexuality. The backdrop for this story is a circus where costumes and mystery can hide Micah’s secret. Flashbacks show how Micah lived before he ran away, his life as a girl, forced into this role by his mother. But more importantly, does Micah like a girl because he’s male? Or is his female side responding as well?

Lam has created a pseudo-Victorian world and strong characters. Most of the story takes places in Micah’s hometown where the circus appears, and I hope that we’ll get to explore the other islands of the Archipelago as well in the other two books (Shadowplay and Masquerade). She has created a dynamic world where power comes from ancient lines. Be it artefacts or ancestors. The circus is the perfect place to show part of the mythology of the world with so many people gathered in one place. The presence of the freak show helps to highlight the curiosities of the world.

The writing is absolutely enchanting. It’s one thing to create a vivid world with tons of mysteries to discover but to be able to write it as well as Lam does, that’s something else. Pantomime is like the ceiling I had when I was a kid, filled with glow-in-the-dark stars. It’s comforting and still exciting. It makes me think and wonder. And that’s what a good book should do.

Pantomime has earned four and a half stars, but I have no doubt the second and third book will get similar or higher ratings. I would recommend this to anyone who’s interested in exploring new, gorgeous worlds, strange creatures and mythology, and other perspectives.

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