In a world almost completely covered in water, North and her bear have lived with the floating circus for as long as they remember. But they have secrets that mean they must move on, but where could they possibly go where they would be accepted? Meanwhile Callanish is exiled to a small island where she cares for the dead, but longs for more.
So I’d definitely got my hopes up. This book had been compared to one of my all time favourites The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. And the cover was pretty wonderful, and the concepts as explained by the blurbs seemed pretty excellent: circuses, bears, floating on an ocean world. And all of the elements were there but… for me, it just didn’t come together right. It felt like the set up of something amazing that never quite went anywhere.
Our two main characters, both of whom have interesting situations and backstory, don’t seem to have any drive to do anything. Both of them seem to languish and just go along and see what happens rather than actually try to do anything for far too long. Their character arcs seem to take forever to get started.
The world-building is very interesting. The concept of most people living on boats, of the sacred land that people long for, even of humanity starting to physically evolve to suit this new world. The circus is an interesting microcosm, with good characters and interesting politics.
But the book just spends too long setting it all up, I think. And it lacks warmth. I didn’t find myself particularly drawn to either North or Callanish. I pitied their circumstances, but wasn’t hugely rooting for them. Probably because, as I said before, it didn’t seem that they were particularly aiming for anything. The book felt like it was caught in it’s own drifting, floating world.
So a good set up, but it failed to come through. What a shame!