Of dead circus performers and overly sappy heroines: Review of “The Immortal Circus” by A. R. Kahler

I thought I’d mix things up a bit & review the latest book I finished. Be warned – there will probably be spoilers.

The premise had a lot of promise as a murder mystery nestled into a supernatural circus. It didn’t live up to that promise.

The heroine, Vivienne, joins this circus for an unknown reason. Her memory has somehow been erased & she can’t remember exactly why she joined in the first place. It’s narrated in first person present. Personally, I find that a rather irritable tense to read. It’s a challenging tense to work with & I’ve yet to find an author who could do it well. A. R. Kahler is no exception. Vivienne reminded me way too much of Ana from 50 Shades of Grey. I’m sure part of it was the tense because 50 Shades is also written in FPP. Vivienne also couldn’t shut up about how hot the male lead was (is?). Add some whips & chains and we’ve got the supernatural sibling of 50 Shades. Ew.

After 2 chapters, we’ve heard about how sexy Kingston is at least a dozen times. Yes, we get it. Now shut up and give us something vaguely resembling a plot. Take my hand if we be friends and I shalt not giveth thee a plot.  Kahler plucked Mab & Oberon from A Midsummer Night’s Dream & plopped them down almost wholesale as the leaders of warring “courts”. Mab is the leader of the Winter Court and Oberon is the leader of the Summer Court even though he never appears in the book. Of the whole cast, I felt like Mab had the most development. That was probably because Shakespeare had done most of the heavy lifting to begin with. There are about half a dozen other named characters, but the most development they’re given are their positions in the circus. Even Vivienne, Kingston, and Melody (Kingston’s lovely assistant) aren’t developed enough to care about. Kahler is a relatively new author & it shows. If he’d spent more time building each character & less time on Vivienne wondering how she can get some Kingston action, it would have elevated the book at least one level. I can’t help but compare it to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. She was also a debut author with a similar theme. Even though the ending was a deus ex machina (love that term!), it was forgivable because the rest of the book was that good. Her setting was absolutely spellbinding. His was good, but not nearly as good as hers.

The Immortal Circus was the kind of book I had to force myself to finish. It was a hair under 250 pages which was do-able for me. If it had run 300+ pages, I would have put it down never to pick it up again. After I finished the book, I discovered it was released as a serial for Kindle. That explained the jarring endings for each chapter. It felt like someone trying to learn how to drive a manual transmission car on a hill. Always wear your seatbelt, kiddies. This wasn’t a “stay up way past my bedtime to read another chapter” book. This was a “throw it in my purse & half read it during my lunch break” kind of book. It’s a shame because it could have been so much more. I was left with no desire to read the next two. Guess the show will go on without me.

Final Rating (out of 5): 2.5

XOXO!

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