Hey Booklovers! These are two books I read mid August and September. I buddy read them with some of my bookstagram buddies. While the latter was part of a readalong.
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place” he said, “where learning is a game.” Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym, Truly Devious. It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.
True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.
This was a completely different read for me. Unlike One of us is lying, despite been a YA mystery I just couldn’t get into these characters. The school, the characters and the settings all felt unreal, not a fantasy I can escape to. The book is mostly a self talk of the protagonist – Stevie. Nothing concrete happens throughout the book except for the last few chapters by which you are left at a cliffhanger (if you care enough that is) and it was just then you have slightly begun to invest in the story itself. Its told in alternative time line. When the first kidnapping occurred in 1938 and in the present. Though Stevie’s characterisation was good it wasn’t fleshed enough especially with that of the supporting characters. It felt like a mesh of sorts. Despite been an enigmatic school we aren’t given the full behind the scenes picture of its working which can be mysterious for some but was bad writing for me. And the ending was mostly disappointing making this book a trilogy which is absurd cause the whole book is just stretched as much as it can and I don’t see the point of it all. Read it at your risk.
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
This was a beautifully written book. I must confess I went in blind for the readalong. I had seen this book around in bookstagram but I never bothered to read it. I participated in the readalong hoping it would get me out of the book slump I was going through then. Despite having a lush prose that I loved reading in the beginning I couldn’t help but take a break as it was excruciatingly slow to the build up. Though it was torture but it didn’t help in my cause. Nevertheless the characters are beautiful, they are written with love and care. Its a beautiful story of star crossed lovers. I did end up finishing this book last week and was disappointed with the ending. Its open to interpretation and I badly wanted more scenes with Celia and Marco. They already had very less. The whole book is about the Circus and the lives involved in it. Not so much specified with those two alone. Yet when they came together the pages burned. Too bad it wasn’t it was properly utilised. Read this book for a different experience.