Heather Cassidy and the Magnificent Mr Harlow by Mitchell Tierney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's magic as I haven't really read before. Heather, a circus brat, is strangely fascinated with Mr Harlow, the magician that travels with her family's circus. Steadily, he has been losing his magic and underperforming, failing at tricks that once wowed audiences, and he only has a few shows left to prove he still has what it takes. But Mr Harlow's faith in himself is fractured; his daughter's confidence in him has been broken by a rift Heather questions; and audiences aren't impressed by a magician who fails night after night. When Heather's curiosity gets the better of her, she breaks into Mr Harlow's caravan to find the sword box that started all the troubles - and when she's forced to hide inside or be caught out, she's accidentally transported into another world where circus freaks are the everyday folk and she is the odd one out.
From here, think Narnia, Alice or Dorothy in Oz. Heather needs to find her way back home, but it's fraught with dangers. Luckily she falls in with some fellow travellers, whose lives of performance and pitching tents in new towns is just what she left behind, though these performers have much more at stake than just impressing an audience...
My favourite characters were Kiel, Ollsop and Bounty. Heather is a nice vessel for the story to follow but these allies of hers are more rounded and interesting. I found this book a delightful introduction to this author's creative mind and look forward to future works of his.
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