Title: Shadow play
Author: Laura Lam
Published: January 7th 2014 by Strange Chemistry, 400 pages
Series: The Micah Grey Series Book 2
Recommended if you like: fantasy, steampunk, LGBTQ characters, magic shows,
Rating: 5 out of 5 Glowing Penglass Domes
Mini Review: I do magic now. Magic is cool.
**Warning: Spoilers for the end of Pantomime**
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 that will 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’s journey and produces more questions than answers.
The performance aspect shifts in this book from the circus to the magic show. As we learned about life in a circus and experienced the thrills of performing along with Micah in Pantomime, now we see the inner workings of the life of a magician. We learn about the art of misdirection, the importance of performance in the execution of illusion. It’s a glimpse behind the curtain of glamor and mystery. In the midst of a fantasy world we don’t fully understand Lam gives us a smaller, magical, one that is far more accessible. Somehow by including performance magic in a world full of what seems increasingly like real magic, it makes Micah’s growing abilities seem even more fantastic.
As we go, we continue to learn more about the politics at work in this world and find that there is unrest and rebellion growing among the lower class. We see through Micah’s sheltered eyes as he comes to see their point of view, and as he’s exposed to the racism that discriminates against foreigners like Cyan, the young woman hired to be an assistant in the magic shows who quickly becomes entangled in the larger elements of the plot. The conflicts are enough of an echo of our own to hit home, but there is never a feeling of “DO YOU SEE THIS ANALOGY I’M MAKING HERE” which always drives me nuts.
Micah and Drystan have clearly been attracted to each other for quite a while, but here we get to see them fall in love. Lam does a fantastic job of differentiating their relationship from Micah’s feelings for Aenea, but not making any judgments about ether being more or less, better or worse. Every relationship is different. For Micah there are simply a few extra elements at play. We get to know Drystan better and learn more of his past. He has a dark side to him and I love characters with gritty history. He loves Micah not as either a male or a female, but completely for who Micah is. And that is 100% awesome.
Micah also has an almost-encounter with his mother when she attends a séance they perform. Micah’s role is behind the scenes and so he doesn’t come face to face with her, but to be so close to her brings up his very real and complicated feelings. I love how when she could easily be painted as a villain, Lam continues to show her as a real person with complex emotions, motivations and responses. I suspect we all have complicated relationships with our mothers, and seeing that struggle reflected in Shadowplay made me love it all the more.
The Completely Awesome
I. Love. This. World.
I love the history. I love the mystery. I love not really knowing who to trust. Is Dr. Pozzi a good guy or a bad guy? And what about Anisa—the Phantom Damselfly? She clearly has her own agenda and has no problem manipulating Micah and Cyan in its pursuit. Why can Micah make the Penglass glow? How are Cyan’s abilities linked to Vestige?
WHAT IS GOING ON!!!
I love books that make me ask questions. Books that keep me guessing. I’m not sure how long this series is going to be, but Lam is clearly sowing seeds to be reaped later, slowly revealing pieces of the mystery that don’t seem to fit together. There is a very fine line between keeping the reader guessing to motivate her to turn the pages and confusing the reader so much that she gives up. It’s a very fine line and Lam walks it beautifully. This world feels both utterly familiar and totally new.
In Shadowplay we learn much more about the history of the world, the pattern of the struggle that seems to be repeating itself. (Maybe? We still aren’t really sure.) It seems more and more children are being born with “birth defects” but are they really chimaera somehow returning to the world? There are so many layers to the mystery. We learn about the past along with Micah and as he gains an understanding of the politics surrounding him we also begin to see the web of hidden agendas and secret knowledge among the people in the government and medical community.
Seriously one of my new favorite series. It is clear that the whole series was planned out and little things are planted through out both the first two books that will (omg they BETTER!) come to fruition by the end. Wonderful intrigue and outstanding character development in a world I want to visit.
The ending once again had me screaming for the next book but apparently Lam hasn’t finished writing it yet (RUDE!) so we have to wait.