Published by Entangled: Teen on February 6th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
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Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.
Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.
I always love it when a book has a circus setting – there’s such a specific atmosphere around it, that hint of whimsy that leaves you filled with a sense of amazement and wonder. The circus in By A Charm and a Curse has real magic, the kind that comes with (you guessed it) a charm and a curse. The charm: none of the circus performers ever get hurt. The curse: the circus has to have a Boy or Girl in the Box as its anchor, one person doomed to live as a human-like wooden puppet. Our main character becomes that anchor. (This actually works in her favour because aside from the curse, she’s about as exciting as watching snails race.)
Honestly, sometimes circus books bring high expectations but fail to deliver. This one, however, delivered on all accounts. It’s a little bit Pinocchio and a little bit Snow White, which seems like an odd combination but worked really well.
I loved the world-building and thought the side characters were fleshed out pretty well – I had a lot of love for Gin and Whiskey especially, and, in the end, Sidney. The love interest, Benjamin, was a bit dull but a precious cupcake overall. On top of that, instead of one villain, you had threebrothers who were all equally despicable.
Could’ve done with a more interesting protagonist, but really, I don’t have much to complain about. I thought this was a really fun and magical story, and would highly recommend it to fans of circus settings and fairytale retellings.
(Seriously though did the dog have to die)
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy