Dial Books, 2015
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Micah Tuttle has grown up hearing his grandfather's stories about the magical Circus Mirandus, but now that Grandpa Ephraim is very sick, Micah is relying on those stories to get him through. With his unbelieving Great Aunt Gertrudis trying her best to squash out any thoughts of magic and preparing to take Micah in when Ephraim passes, he just needs to find Circus Mirandus and The Lightbender to set everything right. He has to. He owes Grandpa Ephraim a miracle. Micah is determined to make sure he gets it.
There were many parallels to Harry Potter, with Aunt Gertrudis stomping around, trying to ruin Micah and Grandpa's fun. She reminded me of the Dursleys and their distaste for the magical world. She keeps Micah from seeing Ephraim because she doesn't want to upset Ephraim, but she also wants to start ridding Micah of all the fantastical and magical stories of Circus Mirandus. Also, Micah makes a friend at school, Jenny, who is very much like Hermione. She's regimented and precise and very intelligent. The difference is that she's so logical that she cannot accept that magic is real and has a reason for every part of Grandpa Ephraim's story. Even when Jenny sees and hears a magical, talking bird, she explains it away because it must be very well trained. She is a good friend to Micah, though. An extremely good friend.
I loved Grandpa Ephraim and Micah's relationship. He has raised Micah since his parents died in a car accident when Micah was very little. They have an understanding that allows for honesty between the two of them, but Grandpa Ephraim's illness is breaking Micah. He's rarely allowed to see his grandpa and Micah is having a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that his grandpa is sick enough that he might die, very soon. This is why he is so determined to find The Lightbender and make him give Grandpa Ephraim the miracle promised to him years before.
I also liked the jumps between Grandpa Ephraim's childhood and the present. The two stories and time frames melded together well and helped add to the magic.
Despite the parallels to Harry Potter, Circus Mirandus is very much its own story, with very distinct characters. It's a story that asks you to believe in magic. To always believe. I definitely recommend it for the times when you need to add that element back into your life.
My favorite quote from the book came towards the end, but it doesn't really give anything away, so I'll share it with you. I love it and I'll leave you with it.
"Because it was a ridiculous, amazing thing to do, and once in a while, it's good to be ridiculous and amazing."
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