Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Book Review: The Circus of the Damned and The Empty Hourglass by Cornelia Grey (MM/PNR/Steampunk)

Title: The Circus of the Damned (Deal with a Devil series)
Author: Cornelia Grey
Publisher:
Riptide Publishing

Publication Date: 2014
Pages:
347
Format:
eBook - EPUB
Genre:
MM/PNR/Steampunk
Source:
Bought Copy


 



Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.


I bought all three books in this series at the same time about a year ago. I read the first, but then the others kept getting shifted down my pile as more urgent reads came in. I thought it was finally time to rectify that and finish them.

The Circus of the Damned was a fun read. I enjoyed the premise, and I liked the interaction between Gilbert and Jesse. Overall, the pacing was good, and I appreciated the steampunk elements. Once or twice I was left scratching my head. For example, Gilbert has a pet mouse who is important at the start but then all but disappears from the story. So there were some plotting issues, but they were minor ones that I was willing to overlook for all the good stuff. I'm giving this four stars. It's not perfect but it has plenty going for it.



Title: The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil series)
Author: Cornelia Grey
Publisher:
Riptide Publishing

Publication Date: 2016
Pages:
264
Format:
eBook - EPUB
Genre:
MM/PNR/Steampunk
Source:
Bought Copy

 



Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.


I think The Empty Hourglass was my least favourite of the three books in this series. I liked the premise, but it didn't quite come together. Jethro never really came fully into focus, and I found the conclusion a bit of an anticlimax. On the plus side, the steampunk elements were great, and I enjoyed some of the side characters, such as Mina (a ghost). I wonder if it might have been improved my more 'page time' for Farfarello and by giving Jethro a POV so we got to know him a little better. It wasn't a bad read, it just didn't captivate me. As such, I am giving it three stars.

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