*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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So... this book. It was not at all what I expected. The major twist (which is revealed pretty early on) was not something that I would have ever discerned from reading the description. It became obvious the more I read, but still. And you know what? It kind of made me love this book even more. Although I'm sure many people won't feel the same way. I'm going to attempt to avoid being spoilery, because I think the book is much better if you don't know the twist beforehand.
I really loved both Gene and Micah, and I loved seeing how their stories intertwined. I liked how the book started in the present, with Micah, then jumps back to Gene's past. And then eventually Gene's story merges with Micah's and everything takes place in the present. I thought Lam did an excellent job with the different perspectives and times. Everything flowed really nicely, and I never really felt like there were any lapses in time or anything that got left out in the process of jumping around.
Lam's world building was absolutely wonderful. Ellada seems like it would be situated somewhere in the Mediterranean region (at least, that's what I imagined), with deserts and beaches and such. The story takes place in the future, but it seems like it takes place in present-day, or even in the past. Parts of it seem like they could happen in the world we know, but then Lam throws in some new mythology and fantasy and whisks you away to a completely different world.
There were so many questions that arose in Pantomime, and only a few of them were answered. By the end, I had about 1000 questions, and was very much hoping that there was a sequel in the works (there is!). I want to know about the Penglass, and more about Gene and Micah, and what Drystan is hiding, and so many other things that just couldn't possibly have been answered in one book.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys books about magic, circuses, far off places, and the like. I would also attach a warning though that you should expect the unexpected, and that this book might not be for everyone. At least give it a chance until the first major twist, because by that point you'll be so invested in the world that you won't want to leave it. I would give this a 4/5, and will be anxiously awaiting the sequel!