Rating: 4 ♥’s
Published: December 6, 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 352

Description: At the World of Wonders, Europe’s most magnificent travelling circus, every moment is full of magic, and nothing is as it seems–especially for the people who put on the show
Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the circus, even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Theo. Brilliant and curious, Lena yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, despite her father’s overprotection and the limits her world places on her because she is disabled. Her unconventional life takes an exciting turn when she rescues Alexandre, an orphan with his own secrets and a mysterious past. Over several years, as their friendship flourishes and Alexandre trains as the illusionist’s apprentice, World War II escalates around them. When Theo and Alexandre are contracted to work and perform in a model town for Jews set up by the Nazis, Lena becomes separated from everything she knows. Forced to make her own way, Lena must confront her doubts and dare to believe in the impossible–herself.

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As one of my friends likes to point out, I have a thing for circus books. It does seem that way one of my favorite books of all time is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. What drew me to The Circus Train was not only it compared it to lovers of The Night Circus and Water for Elephants but I liked that it was a historical fiction that involved not only a circus but also actual historical elements to the story.

Now, I would not really say it was super close to The Night Circus in terms of the fantasy and the elements of the circus, however, that wasn’t a bad thing. This circus had real people performing their talents in ways that brought about this entire World of Wonders circus. I thought it was really neat how the train is described as being part of the show because it has a way that it connects, especially the mirror maze that is in it. It is also neat because not only is the train built this way for the circus to work, but it is also so that Lena is able to move freely in her wheelchair.

The book flowed really smoothly and I thought the time jumps were done well. You would be reading one time and then you get moved to another, but you didn’t feel like you lost the flow of the story. I like that not only was this during World War II and you are seeing aspects of how it affected everyone’s lives, but you are also seeing a time of medical advances to where Lena has the chance to actually possibly be able to get out of her wheelchair. Also, it was really interesting to have a little bit of a mystery that Lena’s father is hiding that is revealed in the story, and it was actually not something that I had guessed, which I am pretty good at guessing so I was happy to have a surprise.

The characters were well-written, and you were rooting for all of them. The three main characters really worked well together and worked off each other nicely. I like that you get a backstory on each of them as you are reading and it flows into the story, which I think provides more depth to it. Of course I was rooting for Lena and Alexandre because they were there for each other in a time that they needed a friend and grew into something more. I also liked though that while they are separated they also grow as people in their own way and aren’t just stuck on not living their respective lives until they are able to find their way back to each other.

This book was a lot of fun to read and I would definitely recommend it. I will be on the lookout for more books written by Amita Parikh in the future.

Book Challenges:

  • Around the Year in 52 Books #20 – Fiction or nonfiction book set during 1900-1951
  • 52 Books in 52 Weeks #41 – Involves a second chance
  • Booklist Queen #11 – Discussion-worthy book club book
  • Popsugar #2 – Set on a plane, train, or cruise ship
  • O.W.L.s #12 – With a star on the cover or in the title
  • Linz Bookworm #47 – Published in a year that was important to you
  • Beyond the Bookends November – Set during WWII
  • Magic in The Books #21 – Parent/Child relationship
  • Wizarding World Tour #22 – Book that involves a train
  • Other Challenges – Netgalley/Edelweiss
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