Title: All the Little Bones (Circus Hearts #1)
Author: Ellie Marney
Target audience: YA
Date Read: 28/08/18 – 29/08/18
I’ve stopped opening reviews with “I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary but…” because I realised that’s not true anymore. What is still true is that I probably lean away from YA contemporaries that are as heavy on the romance as this one, but as you can see from my rating, it didn’t bother me in this case.
Trapeze artist Sorsha and apprentice strongman Colm are on the run from their family-run circus up north after an act of self defence results in a man’s death. Uneasily, they join another circus troupe, where they must navigate the social structures already in place and their growing feelings for each other, all while trying to keep their heads down so the police don’t come knocking.
I loved the performance atmosphere of Klatch’s Karnival, where Sorsha and Colm end up. For a start, the descriptions of the various routines and the costumes, and the set-up were all wonderful. I’m no full-time circus performer but I do perform in amateur musical theatre in my spare time, and there was so much that rang completely true to me. One of my favourite parts was a scene where Sorsha and her roommate Ren have a very philosophical, metaphorical conversation about envelopes, which then turns into a run of bad jokes about envelopes, which then results in laughing fits, and then a second wind of laughing fits over how you’re laughing at such bad jokes. This is me and my theatre friends after a week of dress rehearsals and three opening performances in 36 hours.
Speaking of Ren, I really enjoyed the diverse cast of circus cast and crew, though Ren was a particular favourite. She is Indonesian and there is lots of Indonesian language in the text. I also really liked the way she and Sorsha became fast friends. I was a bit worried because one of the first characters Sorsha meets is Fleur, the daughter of the circus proprietor, and I was getting a Mean Girls vibe from her, which made me a bit wary. Fortunately, though, Fleur is also fleshed out and has her reasons for being the way she is, and we’re getting a whole second book in the series focused on her, which I’m excited for!
Plot-wise, the romance probably happened a bit faster than I would generally like (I am a big fan of the old slow-burn, and when I say slow-burn, I mean, like, five books of will-they-won’t-they :P) but this is not insta-love either because the characters have actually known each other quite some time, and this is where they acknowledge the attraction that has been building. Also, I get super awkward when reading anything romantic that goes beyond a bit of kissing (probably the reason I don’t read a whole lot of romance) but this was just the right amount of sexy and I enjoyed it a lot.
When it comes to the non-romantic aspects, just know that there were certain moments when I was muttering “oh no, oh no!” under my breath on the bus on the way to work. The pace is fast and I was always eager to see what happened next. I can’t wait to see what happens in Book 2!
(I am immensely grateful to Ellie Marney for providing me with a free, early copy of this book via a giveaway. This book releases September 1, 2018.)
This review is part of my 2018 Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for more information.