I am reviewing another Netgalley book. Circus of the Damned by Cornelia Grey is about a young man named Gilbert Blake in a quasi-Victorian city. Blake is a con-man who uses real magic to fleece his victims. When running for his life from some thugs, he comes across the Circus of the Damned led by Jesse, the hot redheaded ringmaster. Desperate for help, Blake agrees to join the circus. However, he finds out he can't ever leave the circus; he's joined up for life (and the afterlife). Thinking to bide his time to figure out a loophole, Blake becomes a magician for the circus and begins a relationship with Jesse. When the circus gets into trouble and Blake's past catches up with him, they have to work together to survive.
What I liked: 1) the gay romance! it was pretty well done and didn't shy away from sex scenes 2) the circus family atmosphere 3) how the circus "kept" its performers from leaving permanently 4) the ending was great
What I didn't like: 1) There wasn't enough world building. Where does the magic come from? Why does Blake have a seemingly sentient mouse as a pet? What sort of religion is there? What's the deal with some of the performers in the circus who seem to be intelligent creatures or AI automatons?
2) There were a few really bad lines that stuck out terribly to me. Just phrasing and images that were just wrong. Like saying a room was pitch black, except for the light coming through the cracks in the ceiling. Now, I was reading this off Netgalley so it could be that some of this would be corrected in a final edit.
It wasn't a bad book. I'm glad I read it and I can imagine the author getting a lot better quickly. I give it a 5/7.