City of Circles
A magical love story between two circus performers, for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern by Costa-shortlisted author Jess Richards.CITY OF CIRCLES is an entrancing love story between Danu and Morrie, two circus performers, and Danu's Lewis Carroll-esque odyssey through the magical city of Matryoshka, that ends with a heart-warming yet bittersweet twist.Danu is a tightrope walker who is mourning her parents, after a disease has ravaged the circus where she grew up. Her mother has entrusted her with a locket that hides a secret.Over the years, Danu pushes away her grief and develops elaborate and successful high-wire acts with Morrie, a charismatic hunchback who wants to marry her. When the circus returns to Danu's birthplace, Matryoshka, Danu is enchanted by the temples, spice mists, and pleasure seekers within the intoxicating outer circle district.Here, she finally gains the courage to open her mother's locket, and discovers the name of a stranger who lives behind the locked gate of the Inner Circle. Fated to remain in Matryoshka, Danu attempts to resolve this mystery . . .Will she and Morrie ever be reunited, or will something far more unexpected be waiting for her in the mysterious heart of the city?

City of Circles Details

TitleCity of Circles
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 10th, 2017
PublisherSceptre
ISBN-139781473656680
Rating
GenreFantasy, Fiction

City of Circles Review

  • K.J. Charles
    January 1, 1970
    This book feels like it isn't there. The wounded heroine suppresses her feelings, which fine except she was a total affectless blank to me as a reader. This is partly because she doesn't really see other people, and thus since it's deep 3rd nor does the reader--I have no sense of her love interest as a person, what he wants or who he is, so am not remotely invested in their relationship, and the minor characters barely exist to me. The landscape is a vague blur with some trees and some snow; I h This book feels like it isn't there. The wounded heroine suppresses her feelings, which fine except she was a total affectless blank to me as a reader. This is partly because she doesn't really see other people, and thus since it's deep 3rd nor does the reader--I have no sense of her love interest as a person, what he wants or who he is, so am not remotely invested in their relationship, and the minor characters barely exist to me. The landscape is a vague blur with some trees and some snow; I have no idea what sort of technology exists, what the economy of the country is, history, political set up, whether the circus people pay taxes, racial make up, religious beliefs, anything. And since it's in present tense, we don't even have a sense of time passing. I'm sure this is a deliberate literary device, and I'm guessing that the action and emotion and vivid setting will begin once the heroine gets to the city in a Wizard of Oz everything-goes-Technicolor way, but I fear I lack the urge to find out. Eh, it's inevitable when authors take literary risks, you win some, you lose some. (If it helps, I absolutely *hated* Remains of the Day because of the main character, so if you liked that massively award-winning highly praised novel, you'll probably love this.)DNF at 90pp.
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  • Linda Hepworth
    January 1, 1970
    When Danu Monk is fifteen she watches her parents die. They are victims of a virus which has resulted in five deaths, and affected many more, in the circus community which is her home. Even though she is taken in by her parents’ closest friends in the circus, and is surrounded by people who care about her, she feels utterly bereft and isolated. Just before she died, her mother entrusted her with a precious silver locket which holds a secret from the past and, although she is initially unable to When Danu Monk is fifteen she watches her parents die. They are victims of a virus which has resulted in five deaths, and affected many more, in the circus community which is her home. Even though she is taken in by her parents’ closest friends in the circus, and is surrounded by people who care about her, she feels utterly bereft and isolated. Just before she died, her mother entrusted her with a precious silver locket which holds a secret from the past and, although she is initially unable to open it, Danu wears it as a choker around her neck. She also wears her father’s leather bootlaces, tied tightly around her ankles, ensuring that she remains constantly, and painfully, aware of all that she has lost.Prior to her parents’ deaths she had been a member of the circus’s troupe of clowns but soon afterwards she approaches Morrie, a charismatic, hunchback tight-rope walker, and asks him if he is prepared to teach her this skill. He is more than happy to do so and their imaginative and daring feats on the wire soon become one of the circus’s most popular acts. Morrie is in love with Danu but, as he is ten years older and she is still grieving, he puts no pressure on her to return his love. She becomes very fond of him but, because her grief has made her question whether she can either recognise, or trust, love ever again, she keeps an emotional distance from him. When the circus visits Matryoshka, the magical city of circles which was her birthplace, she discovers the name of a stranger who may hold a clue to the secret her parents kept from her. This quest for the truth is one she must follow alone and so, when the circus leaves the town, she remains behind, with the comfort of Morrie’s promise to always be there for her should she need his help (he urges her to watch for him on the ether) or eventually discover that she feels able to return his love.This captivating story is told through the alternating voices of Danu and Morrie as they not only seek a way forward in their relationship, but also to discover a deeper meaning to their lives. Each voice is compelling and heart-breaking and I very quickly found myself wanting the trust and balance they developed in their high-wire act to be replicated in their personal relationship. However, Danu’s compelling need to discover the significance of the information contained within her mother’s locket meant that she needed to find herself before she could trust in any belief in a shared future. The author’s exploration of grief and of a young woman’s search for herself was one of the most emotionally affecting pieces of writing I have ever read. She captured so vividly and sensitively how it is possible to feel numb and alone, even when surrounded by people who love and care for you. At one point in the story she describes fifteen words for loneliness, each depicting a different aspect of this feeling, and I found myself wondering why no other author has, in my experience, ever explored it with such clarity and pathos. Her reflections that when people die they take with them the answers to all the unasked questions which remain with the living is not a new idea but she injected it with a particular poignancy. Her choice of Matryoshka as the name of the city of circles was central to the developing story as it soon became clear that there were stories within stories, secrets within secrets, and that getting to the heart and essence of what was important required the characters to patiently explore each and every layer as it presented itself. I quickly found myself immersed in the enchanting world of magic, runes, tarot cards and hexes, as well as the powerfully evoked atmosphere of the circus – I could almost smell the sawdust! I loved the poetic, mystical and ethereal nature of the author’s prose and frequently found myself reflecting on the ideas and observations she introduced into the story. I think this would be a good choice for reading groups because it is such an original, wonderfully fantastic story, containing so many layers of meaning which would offer fertile ground for lively discussion.Anyone who enjoys magical realism will be in for a treat with this thought-provoking story. I haven’t read Jess Richards' previous two novels, Snake Ropes (short-listed for the 2012 Costa First Novel Award) and Cooking with Bones, but now feel keen to remedy this omission!
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  • Illona
    January 1, 1970
    gorgeous story. crap ending.
  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    Romance and literal tight-ropes you say? I'm in. As the tale waxed on, it became clear I was reading tragedy. I continued, although I ached for the thoroughly-drawn characters. From midway I found similarities to Neil Gaiman and Trudi Canavan, but Richards' voice is distinctly different from any other I've read.There is more hope and beauty in the narrative's closure than a textbook tragic piece, but it's essential to emphasise: this tale is less about the fluffy stuff and more about soul-search Romance and literal tight-ropes you say? I'm in. As the tale waxed on, it became clear I was reading tragedy. I continued, although I ached for the thoroughly-drawn characters. From midway I found similarities to Neil Gaiman and Trudi Canavan, but Richards' voice is distinctly different from any other I've read.There is more hope and beauty in the narrative's closure than a textbook tragic piece, but it's essential to emphasise: this tale is less about the fluffy stuff and more about soul-searching, emotional anguish, and management of grief. An entire interlude is dedicated to a flashback interaction with a woman who invents and defines 15 new words for loneliness.Segues such as these are frequent and oft-times lengthy. Although I'm prone to resist too much tangential exposition, in the case of City of Circles, it matched the character's exploratory arc -- with each anecdote, memory, quoted plaque, song or poetry excerpt, scraps of perception were knitting together. As a reader, we too are searching for meaning, alongside Duna, although occasionally these embellishments felt too long and too effectual upon pacing.Although one reveal was clear very early, the minutia of everything else spiraling and cocooning around this anchor point was pure mystery. Coupled with the weighted whimsy, the surprises page to page made the story and world a mystical navigational pleasure. More than once I felt exhilarated by Richards' possiblity realm.Duna's world has a timelessness to it that only heightened the mystical notes. In one moment I was certain my characters occupied a pastoral world without technology, then electricity, paper towels or an elevator would gently intrude upon that visage to challenge my comfort in picking up any established time period and employing it for the story. As I would rework my imagining with these modern inclusions, the prominence of horses for transport and absence of information technology resisted a new preconception taking the old one's place. This beautiful setting complimented a world of lonely gypsies; a world separate and apart from our own. The text is thick with motifs and symbolism to reinforce the search, the loneliness and the mystical otherness. Duna's poetry, interactions with sage-like strangers, introspection, dreams, visions, incantations, prayers and conversations with animals saturate the text and demand attention. Scenes with horses, spiders and magpies were always welcome, for me. Furthermore, all those that breathed life into the inanimate -- I relished them all.I found the treatment of sex jarring and sad. Although this has largely been Duna's experience of sex (warning: there is a violent advance early in the story, ultimately thwarted but rattling all the same), I was disappointed that almost all of the characters lacked any reverence for it. Given sections have some omniscience and others are another character's perspective altogether, I would have welcomed more alternative treatment (there is one very brief alternative view given). Describing having sex as f***ing, from the lips of more than one character, is disappointing. What an ugly view. I thought perhaps this word meant less for Richards', but other crass details and breasts being consistently called "tits" seemed at odds with such a poetic work. Perhaps some might argue that is the point -- this juxtaposition of all that is beautiful alongside something the characters finds jarring and unwelcome, but I say again, supporting characters are portrayed as sharing this view. This was a missed opportunity, for me, as I felt strongly that the intimacy one character in particular longed for was not at all f***king, and in fact represented an excellent representation of temperance and desire for love-making. (A few more specifics can be found here: https://strikingkeys.blogspot.com/201...)It's unfortunate for me that the unpleasant scenes and pain of this story will probably stay with me longer than the beauty. But oh there is beauty. It's probably more like a 3.75/5, but rating system being what it is, I'll lock it in as a 4.Review copy received from Hachette.
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  • Miriam Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Won in Goodreads Giveaways - not read, passed on.
  • Lexi
    January 1, 1970
    may 9 2017: FRICKFNDJSJAIFJDJSNX
  • SJH (A Dream of Books)
    January 1, 1970
    'City of Circles' is an unusual and unique read. I hadn't heard a lot about it before reading the novel but I was attracted to it by the premise of the story. It features a character called Danu, who at the beginning of the book loses both of her parents. She struggles to deal with her grief within a community of fellow circus performers. Soon after their deaths, she begins a high-wire act with Morrie, a hunchback performer who loves and wants to marry her. Danu however, is restless and unsettle 'City of Circles' is an unusual and unique read. I hadn't heard a lot about it before reading the novel but I was attracted to it by the premise of the story. It features a character called Danu, who at the beginning of the book loses both of her parents. She struggles to deal with her grief within a community of fellow circus performers. Soon after their deaths, she begins a high-wire act with Morrie, a hunchback performer who loves and wants to marry her. Danu however, is restless and unsettled; unsure about where she sees her life headed. When the circus arrives in Matryoshka, the city of 3 circles and Danu's birthplace, she is drawn to her new surroundings and attempts to find the answer to a secret from her past. There were some things about this book that I loved and others that I wasn't quite so keen on. I really enjoyed the circus theme which is something that I'm seeing more and more of lately in books. It's interesting to see characters that are always on the move and with such unique occupations. There's always something truly magical and mysterious about the circus too. Although the story is mainly told from Danu's point of view, I thoroughly enjoyed the parts that showed things from Morrie's perspective. He is a character that I wasn't sure I was going to like at the beginning but he really grew on me throughout the book, particularly as I began to understand more about the depth of his feelings for Danu. I felt frustrated by Danu at times but she was also a wonderfully interesting protagonist and I loved the second half of the book when she is exploring Matryoshka and all its wonders. The city was amazing and brilliantly imagined by Richards. It definitely made me wish that it wasn't purely fictional. The big disappointment for me was the ending. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and after such a big build up throughout the story, it felt like a bit of a let down. This was a real shame because I did enjoy 'City of Circles' and up until the very end I would have gladly recommended it to others. It felt somewhat rushed and wasn't the conclusion that I was hoping for.
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  • Sophie Elaina
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I feel like it has one of those plots that is so well weaved together with the characters and their development that it was really mind blowing to read. I mean some things were predictable but there was so much more happening at the same time that wasn't and I can't believe how well it was done. Jess Richards' writing was almost lyrical and kind of reminded me of when I read Laini Taylor's books.'Tightrope walking is dangerous isn't it?'He repies in his softest v Wow, I really enjoyed this book. I feel like it has one of those plots that is so well weaved together with the characters and their development that it was really mind blowing to read. I mean some things were predictable but there was so much more happening at the same time that wasn't and I can't believe how well it was done. Jess Richards' writing was almost lyrical and kind of reminded me of when I read Laini Taylor's books.'Tightrope walking is dangerous isn't it?'He repies in his softest voice, 'Until you learn how to balance, everything is.'I think I have a thing for books that have circus' or carnival's in them. It's just one of my favourite things to read about at the moment. So even though I'd seen a few less favourable reviews I still wanted to pick this up and give it a try. It was the same with Caraval as even though there were so many mixed reviews I still ended up really loving it, and this was the case once again with City of Circles.'She stares into the river, longing for the emergence of something profound. A water spirit, who trickles and surges through rivers and streams, before gathering herfelf as a powerful ocean. The sound of gushing water subsides. Light shifts. The river stills. Danu drifts into the clouds, reflected beneath her in the water.'The book follows Danu and Morrie two circus performers and their journey together through the magical city of Matryoshka. When Danu visits Matroyshka it reminded me of when Alice fell down the rabbit hole; honestly that is the only way I can think of as to describe it. I don't want to give too much away in terms of the characters as I think that would spoil the affect of reading it. Just read it! The story is full of whimsy, and love and adventure and if that is what your looking for in a book then this is perfect for you. I would highly recommend.5 Stars!Check out my blog/website: https://sophieelaina.wixsite.com/blogThank you to Goodreads, Sceptre and Jess Richards for sending me an arc to review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Osbian Night
    January 1, 1970
    I have to say this is brilliant … but the cover and the descriptions of it are really misleading. They’re not wrong exactly but don’t quite represent the story very well. The cover, which I love, gives a sense of the supernatural. I asked my mum what she thought it was about based on the cover and she said something to do with magic or vampires … Well there is a bit of mystical in the book but it’s not a main part of the story and other than say Tarot cards the first bit of magic isn’t till half I have to say this is brilliant … but the cover and the descriptions of it are really misleading. They’re not wrong exactly but don’t quite represent the story very well. The cover, which I love, gives a sense of the supernatural. I asked my mum what she thought it was about based on the cover and she said something to do with magic or vampires … Well there is a bit of mystical in the book but it’s not a main part of the story and other than say Tarot cards the first bit of magic isn’t till half way through the book. TBH, magic doesn’t really have an effect till the last quarter of the books. It’s not a bad thing.. i guess that depends on your POV… I’m just commenting on the cover.Now the descriptions of it. It's described as “an entrancing love story between Danu and Morrie”. Again, the ‘romance’ between the two is part of the book and runs all the way through but it’s more subtle than a love story and not really what the narrative focuses on.This story really is about Danu and how she wraps her grief around her. She keeps her father’s bootlaces wrapped tight around her ankle and her mother’s locket like a choker. The locket is a major part of the story. Danu doesn’t open it till years after her parents death, despite her never taking it off, and she only does just before the circus leaves her birthplace in a moment of desperation. What’s in it was definitely not what she was expecting.The book perfectly mirrors her grief with the tone and writing. I’m not sure I could read the first couple of pages again because they brought up so much emotion but it is beautifully done and would highly recommend this book to read.Full review at:https://osbianreviews.wordpress.com/2...
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a magical love story involving two circus performers. Although some may find it magical and entertaining, I rather felt it a bit slow and cumbersome. The story itself is based around a girl, Danu, overcoming her grief and guilt at the death of her parents. Her only reminder of her mother is a locket, given to Danu on her mothers deathbed. Inside this locket she finds more questions than answers, as she travels with a moving I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a magical love story involving two circus performers. Although some may find it magical and entertaining, I rather felt it a bit slow and cumbersome. The story itself is based around a girl, Danu, overcoming her grief and guilt at the death of her parents. Her only reminder of her mother is a locket, given to Danu on her mothers deathbed. Inside this locket she finds more questions than answers, as she travels with a moving circus as a tightrope walker to her home city - the magical Matryoshka. I liked the atmospheric feel of the book. The circus environment was exciting and well detailed. I felt at times as though I had stepped into this other world of Matryoshka as the author did a really good job of describing it, and I enjoyed the process of exploring it with Danu and Morrie. However, there's no real sense of what's occurring outside of this environment. I couldn't tell you, for example, where this is set, or even if it's set in the near past or present or how time passed. At times, the writing style of this also seemed a bit overall 'whimsy' or flowery for me, and at times the prose did get a bit irritating. The character development was ok, although at times the romance element wore a little thin. I also though Morrie often played a supplementary role to Danu, and the plot itself plodded along for far too long with not much happening. It did pick up towards the end enough to keep me intrigued enough to continue however. This would be a good book for people who enjoy deeply poetic style writing of magical lands. Sadly, I found the writing style wasn't quite for me.
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  • Angela Sandford
    January 1, 1970
    City of CirclesBy Jess RichardsA truly enchanting tale - absolutely loved it!When Danu was just 15, she lost her mother and father to a deadly virus. She feels guilty because she survived, and she finds it hard to grieve...there are so many unanswered questions...Danu is with a travelling circus - now a tightrope walker. Morrie, her partner, is madly in love with her, but Danu is still looking for unanswered questions and cannot settle with anyone.When the circus arrives at Matryoshka - Danu's b City of CirclesBy Jess RichardsA truly enchanting tale - absolutely loved it!When Danu was just 15, she lost her mother and father to a deadly virus. She feels guilty because she survived, and she finds it hard to grieve...there are so many unanswered questions...Danu is with a travelling circus - now a tightrope walker. Morrie, her partner, is madly in love with her, but Danu is still looking for unanswered questions and cannot settle with anyone.When the circus arrives at Matryoshka - Danu's birthplace - she is sure she can find the answers to her questions. There's so little time - the circus needs to move on and Danu is torn between going with the circus, or staying in the City of Circles. She decides to stay, and Morrie promises to meet her in the ether....Danu needs to find out what this mysterious 'ether' is, and needs to find her answers before time runs out for her....but with dark forces at work, will she ever be at peace? and will Morrie ever be reunited with his one true love?.....The City of Circles was captivating from start to finish! It was full of mystery and magic. I loved the 'ether' after ending! And hope Danu would continue to be happy with her choice.Thank you Jess Richards for a truly perfect read!
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  • SALLY WHITE
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Goodreads for sending me this book. This is a fantasy novel. I really enjoyed the story between Danu and Morie. Danu is a young girl who lives in a circus family. Unfortunately, her parents die when she is young. Understandably, she is full of grief and because of this, at times I found her quite frustrating. During the book, she meets Morrie, who is a hunchback and he cares for Dan deeply. Because of what she’s been through, Danu’s treatment of Morrie is not always fair, but the story Thank you Goodreads for sending me this book. This is a fantasy novel. I really enjoyed the story between Danu and Morie. Danu is a young girl who lives in a circus family. Unfortunately, her parents die when she is young. Understandably, she is full of grief and because of this, at times I found her quite frustrating. During the book, she meets Morrie, who is a hunchback and he cares for Dan deeply. Because of what she’s been through, Danu’s treatment of Morrie is not always fair, but the story follows their relationship. I would recommend readers who enjoy fantasy/mystical reads to give the book a go.
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    I think perhaps I'm in the minority here, but something about this book didn't click with me. I thought the book was super whimsical and incredibly detailed - and normally I like these elements - but combined with the plot it just felt labored. The plot, to me, dragged a bit and for a while not much happens so there's not much to move the story along. Combined with the fact that I had a hard time connecting to Danu or liking her, which is not a reason I would rate the book down. For me the main I think perhaps I'm in the minority here, but something about this book didn't click with me. I thought the book was super whimsical and incredibly detailed - and normally I like these elements - but combined with the plot it just felt labored. The plot, to me, dragged a bit and for a while not much happens so there's not much to move the story along. Combined with the fact that I had a hard time connecting to Danu or liking her, which is not a reason I would rate the book down. For me the main issues were plot pacing and writing. Disclaimer: I received this ARC from a friend.
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  • Denise Skilton
    January 1, 1970
    https://www.amazon.com/review/create-...#
  • Martina
    January 1, 1970
    I won this book in the giveaway.I really enjoyed it. Read it and you won't be disappointed.
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