Review – The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell

**Disclaimer: I was given a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.**

Title The Circus Rose

Author Betsy Cornwell


Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamentalist flyers paper the walls and preachers fill the squares, warning of shadows falling over the land. The circus prepares a triumphant homecoming show, full of lights and spectacle that could chase away even the darkest shadow. But during Rosie’s tightrope act, disaster strikes.

In this lush, sensuous novel interwoven with themes of social justice and found family, it’s up to Ivory and her magician love—with the help of a dancing bear—to track down an evil priest and save their circus family before it’s too late.

Release Date June 16, 2020

Initial Thoughts

I saw this was pitched as a YA retelling of Snow White and I knew I had to read this one. Also, the cover is stunning. I loved that the color scheme matches that of an actual circus rose. A win-win in my opinion.

Some Things I Liked

  • Dual POVs with different styles for each narrator. I loved the alternating prose and verse style used for Ivory and Rosie.
  • Shorter length. I also loved that this was a quick read. I read it all in one afternoon.
  • Magical setting. I loved the way the circus and Ivory and Rosie’s circus family was described. The world building was very well done here, especially for a shorter book.

One Thing I Wasn’t Crazy About

  • The plot. This is a huge thing to have a hangup with. I really didn’t enjoy the way the plot played our or resolved. It really fell flat for me and I think there was so much more that could have been done.

A Note About Language

Tam’s character’s gender is not defined and there are special pronouns used throughout the writing. I was able to pick up on this immediately, but it was different than what I was used to.

Series Value

This story feels relatively complete. I don’t feel an overwhelming desire to revisit this world. I also didn’t immediately have ideas about what I imagined for sequels / spin-offs so I don’t think this book had very high series value.

Final Thoughts

This book was ok. I liked certain aspects of it, but I didn’t really connect with it. The story fell a bit flat and the “big reveal” was not very well explained. I can’t say that I would continue with this as a series but I can say that I liked the world building and descriptive language.


Recommendations for Further Reading

  • Ink in the Blood by Kim Smejkal – if you liked the performance troupe family as well as the religious zealots in the world building, try this duology by Kim Smejkal.
  • The Girl of Hawthorn and Glass by Adan Jerreat-Poole – if you liked the non-binary gender character, give this May 2020 release a try.

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