After hearing about K. D. Halbrook’s upcoming book Silver Batal & the Water Dragon Races, I looked at her other work & just had to have this book… it’s got a gorgeous cover & it’s about a circus! Yasss!
⚠️ Ableist slurs from secondary characters & serious bullying ⚠️
Smoke & Mirrors is about a little girl who lives in a circus; her life is pretty rough as it is, with the bullies picking on her at school because of her background, but when her parents go missing (& it’s kinda her fault) she feels like it’s her duty to go on a dangerous journey to find them… I enjoyed this story, but it was completely wacky & during the second half of the book I had absolutely no idea what was going on…
I read this book a while ago but I did really enjoy it; I was hooked from the first few pages & was really pulled into Sasha’s world. I loved the circus atmosphere (obviously) & really loved Sasha’s family – Sasha’s (black) father was super funny & was everything I wish my dad had been; Sasha’s mum believed in her children so much, & you can tell that she really wanted the best for both Sasha, & her little brother. As for Sasha’s little brother Toddy, I just wanted to cuddle him throughout the entire story.
As I’ve mentioned, main character Sasha is bullied in this story – & the bullying is pretty bad. There is some violence in this book in regards to the bullying, but even without the physical stuff, the bullying scenes were horrible to read; my tummy kept flipping every time the bullies turned up & I just wanted to keep Sasha safe. I haven’t read many books with bullying like this & I think the author did a really good job of telling this kind of story.
Things just got worse for Sasha when her parents disappear, & as it’s kind of her fault (I won’t say how), Sasha feels like she has to be the one to hunt them down. And this is where the book got really strange; this story has an odd feel to it anyway, but once a boat, the sea & The Crab King turned up I was totally confused… but in a good way? The story was so unpredictable but I was genuinely addicted & didn’t ever want to put it down to sleep.
Smoke & Mirrors ended up turning into something I absolutely did not expect; the story was spun on its head multiple times, & I couldn’t put it down, & I just know that this would hook so many young readers with its strangeness. I was dragged into this story & I know the story will leave readers wanting to know more, just so that they can understand what’s actually going on. I’ve seen some negative reviews for this story, & that makes me really sad because it was exactly the kind of book I needed at the time I picked it up & I can’t wait for more of K. D. Halbrook’s work.
Oh, & I really liked that this wasn’t a travelling circus, & that the customers come to them – rather than the circus performers moving around the country.
Smoke & Mirrors is also available on Audible!
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