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ARC Review – Shadowplay by Laura Lam

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Title:  Shadowplay

Author: Laura Lam

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: The circus lies behind Micah Grey in dust and ashes.

He and the white clown, Drystan, take refuge with the once-great
magician, Jasper Maske. When Maske agrees to teach them his trade, his embittered rival challenges them to a duel which could decide all of their fates. People also hunt both Micah and the person he was before the circus–the runaway daughter of a noble family. And Micah discovers there is magic and power in the world, far beyond the card tricks and illusions he’s perfecting…

A tale of phantom wings, a clockwork hand, and the delicate unfurling of new love, Shadowplay continues Micah Grey’s extraordinary journey.

Sam’s Review: 

Huge thank you to Strange Chemistry and Netgalley for allowing me to review this book in advance.
I adored Pantomime and it was easily one of the best reads I encountered this year. Shadowplay it’s direct sequel, might be just as amazing as its predecessor. With Micah and Drystan having left the circus in ashes, they begin a new journey at each other’s side.

Micah has some major growth in this story. So much so that it’s easy to continue to love his thought process for how he views the world around him. While in Pantomime he seems more innocent, in Shadowplay Micah moves into the role of the experienced, showing less fear than he once felt. I also love the relationship growth between Drystan and Micah and I think Lam writes them to be such a sweet, I-would-do-anything-for-you couple without making them excessive. They are still individuals, just as much as they are a couple. Those are my favourite types of relationships.

Sadly though, Micah got dethroned as my favourite character in this book. Shocking, I know, considering how much fangirling I did in the first book. Cyan completely won me over and stole my heart. She faces so many trials and tribulations, but she’s so easy to root for. She’s not always likable in the way that Micah is, but I appreciate her tougher exterior. Cyan is so complex, yet her motivations with and against Micah are so well integrated into the novel. I love her and I hope she comes back at some point.

Once again I have to praise the atmosphere of Lam’s work. She has this way of making readers feel so deeply connected to her characters and the world they inhabit. Everything has ebb and flow, there’s no kinks along the way that transport you out of what you’re reading. She also handles gender and gender identity issues with such wonderful ease, making them comfortable like a warm blanket.

And then there are the Shadows. Stalking Micah and Drystan, yet never knowing where they actually are. The Shadows are genuinely creepy, and I know as I was reading whenever they appeared or were mentioned I felt uneasiness. We also learn about Micah’s feature as a chimera, something I hope gets explored more because there’s pockets of information, but never the full story.

Lam once again gives readers a wonderfully woven, extensively smart novel that handles topics of sexuality, discrimination and transition with such ease. It’s so easy to fall in love with her characters and follow their lives — they always give you just enough information to pull the reader along, but always with a sense of gentleness. I loved Shadowplay as much as I lovedPantomime, if not more, and I look forward to seeing where Micah’s adventure lead him.

Although with that ending? It’ll be interesting to see where things go.

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