I think I picked this book up merely because the plot takes place in a circus. And because the cover was appealing. A YA, fantasy, in a circus? Yeahhh.
It begins with a teenage boy making his way into the circus. He is a runaway and has the ability with the trapeze. His name is Micah Grey.
Second chapter is about a fancy girl ,whose best friend is her brother. This girl is a bit of a tomboy. Her name is Iphigenia Laurus, but prefers to be called Gene.
Around 8% of the book, things get a bit weird. Weird for me because I was suspecting something but that could be impossible. Like, oh yes, I have a wild imagination, this can't be true. When I was at 10% of the book, I was so certain of this fact, I took a little time and re-read the plot and some reviews. And where this book was categorized in.
It is a YA. No problems there.
It is a fantasy. Yes, you can tell.
It is a GLTB.... Huh? You would say. Iphigenia is not a lesbian. Micah is not gay.
BUT... But... but....
It turns out Iphigenia is Micah. Micah is Iphigenia. And no, it is not Iphigenia pretending to be a boy, to escape from her family and work as a performer in a circus. And no, it is not Micah cross-dressing.
Iphigenia/Micah is the same person. She/he is actually both female and male. A hermaphrodite. An 'inter-sex", as it is called here. She/he has breasts but also a penis. She/he has a deep voice and an Adam's apple, but also her/his period.
To not make my review harder to write than I intend to, I will refer to Gene/Micah as he. The story is narrated alternating his past and his present. His past when he was pretending to be a girl (a rich girl, kind of forced by his mother to dress nicely and get a good catch for a husband) and his present (his life at the circus, his hard beginning there and eventually, being accepted by everybody).
The whole circus and it performances were very well done. Sometimes I had Cirque Du Soleil in mind.. well, every time actually. I love circuses, except when it has animals. Even though is cliche, I love that in here we have the woman with the beard, the strong man, the snake woman, etc., all "freaks" that a circus of this kind needs to have.
Although it was interesting to read Micah's past life as Gene, there was a point (after he escaped) when I thought it was a bit bothersome. I preferred to read his new life in the circus, not about something that happened merely weeks ago. It was fine to read Iphigenia's struggles with her identity, but no need to extend once he became Micah. I kept thinking "Get to the circus already and stop this nonsense!".
Like in every YA book, there is a bit of love triangle, although in this one is not annoying as it is used to. The 2 main love interests are, in fact, a girl and a boy, which makes things more interesting. For most of the book, Micah is hanging out with his trapeze partner, Aenea. She does not know that he is half male, half female, so they shared only a few kisses. The boy is a handsome clown named Drystan, who has also escaped his luxurious life. He knows Micah is the disappeared girl but only that, not his darkest secret.
Although I did like Aenea, it did not feel right to see them together. Maybe I have read to many MM romances, but to me, Micah was like an uke: pretty, nice, somewhat naive. Mainly because of his upbringing as a woman. I feel like Micah and Aenea shared more friendship than love. I guess that the author was leading readers to like Drystan more than Aenea anyway. Micah and Drystan shared more things in common: their past (a past that Drystan is aware of), their upbringing, and -huge point in favor- Drystan likes both men and women. Besides, Micah hid more secrets from Aenea than from Drystan. And at the end, when both of them really know the truth, Drystan's attitude is what one expects from the main love interest.
His strange human nature does not come alone; he has some kind of magic with glasses. It was not very developed in this first book; luckily it will have more impact in the next one.
The end is a bit... mmmm, maybe predictable. There has to be a huge drama/problem so things can go on in the second book. Aenea was eliminated to easily from this love triangle, so yes, in that aspect it is disappointing to think that Micah may chose Drystan only because he has to.
I am clicking the next one into my TBR shelf. I am curious to know what will happen.