#Wyrd and Wonder Day 12: Desert Island Reads

I’ve always hated when people ask me about my one favorite book or which 10 reads I’d bring to a desert island. Why are you putting me thorugh the stress of even thinking about this?! I’m not making you choose your favorite child, am I?
Well, for Wyrd and Wonder, I’m embracing the anxiety and I know that, whatever I post here, I will immediately regret at least half of my choices and think of different, better ones. Let’s do it anyway. Because this is fun. Right?

You can find the rules here. The very basic summary is: Choose 8 books, 1 movie/TV show and 1 luxury item/whatever you want to bring to bring on a desert island with you. TV shows include all episodes, movies include all volumes if part of a fanchise. Book series count as individual books unless there’s a bindup version (Lord of the Rings would count as one book, for example).

IMAGE CREDIT: pegasus image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

MY DESERT ISLAND READS… I’m not taking any chances here. Nothing that I haven’t read, unless it’s by one of my favorite authors.

  • The Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett
    Yes, there actually is an omnibus edition of these five books and you can imagine how happy I was that I didn’t have to choose just one Discworld book for my desert island. Although I would have loved to take all the Witch books.
  • Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine
    I’ve been meaning to re-read this book forever. It’s rather short but Valentine creates a whole world within its pages. It’s got steampunk elements, complex character dynamics, secrets and mysteries, and it’s about a wandering circus in a strangely broken world.
  • Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce
    Choosing the middle book of a trilogy may seem weird but it’s my favorite. It has some really great twists, the characters have grown up a bit from the first book and I just adore Wilce’s world building and writing style. Her alternate California and clever protagonist Flora are just amazing.
  • The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales Angela Slatter
    I have read the first two story collections in this loosely connected series and they are both favorites of mine. This new one is probably just as amazing so I’m bringing it even though I haven’t read it yet.
  • Nation by Terry Pratchett
    Well, you can’t have too many Pratchett books and this one especially fits the island setting. It’s a non-Discworld book but it has made me laugh and cry and fall in love with its characters. Pratchett’s deep understanding of and compassion for humanity gets to truly shine here.
  • Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney
    For someone who doesn’t read many collections, I sure do love a lot of them. Cooney is a poet and it shows in her prose writing as well. Her tales are fantastical, bizarre, creepy, atmospheric, inspired by fairy tales but utterly original. I adore her!
  • The Fairyland Series 1-3 by Catherynne M. Valente
    Unfortunately, only the first three books exist in a collected format but I’ll take what I can get. I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of Cat Valente, her writing, her ideas, and especially what she did in this series. Infinitely re-readable.
  • In the Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente
    Yeah, it kills me that there’s no edition with both volumes of The Orphan’s Tales but, fine, I’ll take the first and that’s that. Unless I should take Deathless instead?! Have I mentioned that I hate this game?

TV, MOVIE OR PODCAST… This is just mean. I want to go with a TV show, simply because more episodes means more hours of entertainment. But leaving Willow off the island? Or The Neverending Story? I guess the smart choice would be Friends but that’s not fantasy and I’m not that smart anyway. Battlestar Galactica (2003) and Deep Space Nine also aren’t fantasy so I guess I’ll just have to choose my perennial favorite Labyrinth. I’ve loved this movie since I was a child and I’m still not tired of it.

I CAN’T DO WITHOUT… I wanted to bring my boyfriend but he is far from inanimate and the rules say to bring only things. Favorite foods will only last until they’re eaten, so I think I’ll pick something more useful. How about one of those Swiss Army knives that can do practically anything? I can open coconuts, cut some wood, gut all the fish I’m catching… Yeah, I’ll go with that. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Bookish Quotes

Life has been a bit stressful lately, so I haven’t posted as much as I would have liked. But I’m still reading and catching up on 2020 releases, so you can expect new reviews soon. Pinkie promise!

Until then, I thought I’d participate in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is all about bookish quotes. I dove deep into my reading history and, unsurprisingly, ended up with quotes from my favorite books and authors.

My favorite bookish quotes


Because Laini Taylor is a genius and Strange the Dreamer is full of beautiful quotes, I cheated and chose two:

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

– Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


It comes as no surprise that my very favorite author is featured on this list. She may make more than one appearance… Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless broke my heart in so many ways, it’s ridiculous. And while there are many lines in that book that I can re-read over and over again without them losing their power, here’s my favorites:

“You will always fall in love, and it will always be like having your throat cut, just that fast.”

– Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente


And I have to add another Laini Taylor book. Her collection of shorter works Lips Touch: Three Times is the reason I gave this author another chance when I bounced off another of her books hard. I’m so glad I tried again because now she’s one of my favorites.


“There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, not her, her. The pert, lovely ones with butterfly tattoos in secret places, sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? No, not them. The girls watching the lovely ones sitting on their boyfriends’ laps? Yes.
The goblins want girls who dream so hard about being pretty their yearning leaves a palpable trail, a scent goblins can follow like sharks on a soft bloom of blood. The girls with hungry eyes who pray each night to wake up as someone else. Urgent, unkissed, wishful girls.”

– Goblin Fruit by Laini Taylor


So, every single one of the five volumes in the Fairyland Series is filled to the brim with quotable lines. I have chosen only a few to give you a taste. If you haven’t yet, go try and read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and then devour the rest of the series because it is filled with the kind of wonder you last felt as a kid, plus Cat Valente’s trademark lyrical prose.

Summer Reading: Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland Series — home | school | life

“A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientifick folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!”

– The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente


“A book is a door, you know. Always and forever. A book is a door into another place and another heart and another world.”

– The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente


And another infinitely quotable writer appears on this list. Terry Pratchett was a treasure and a fountain of insight into human nature. The fact that he holds up a mirror to our society with humor only makes his books better! Reaper Man is one of his books that touched me particularly because even though Death takes a vacation in this story, his job is never really done, is it?

“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”

– Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett


I discovered Theodora Goss via Cat Valente because they both write mythpunk. The short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting blew me away with its imaginative stories, deep themes, and of course, beautiful quotes.

“This is the sort of thing people like: the implication that, despite their minivans and microwaves, if they found the door in the wall, they too could enter fairyland.”

Pip and the Fairies by Theodora Goss


Maggie Stiefvater is one of those author who can pull you into a story that you follow along nicely, and then she hits you with a line so perfect it’s like a punch in the guts. But, you know, in a good way. I urge you to read her entire Raven Cycle, and then throw in the Scorpio Races and have your heart torn out. Because why should it just be me. I would have added my favorite quote from that book as well but it’s the very last line and I don’t want to spoil it for you.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

– The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


Come on, let me have another Pratchett quote! This is a non-Discworld novel so if academic wizards, headology-using witches, or cynical city guards aren’t for you, pick this one up. Nation has so many layers and all of them are beautiful. Ever since I read it, I’ve been giving this book as a gift to everyone I could think of.

“Someone had to eat the first oyster, you know.
Someone looked at a half shell full of snot and was brave.”


“Take one strip of the vine lengthwise and yes, it needs the strength of two men to pull it apart. But weave five strands of it into a rope and a hundred men can’t break it. The more they pull, the more it binds together and the stronger it becomes. That is the Nation.”

– Nation by Terry Pratchett


This criminally underread trilogy is such a gem! Flora Segunda, Flora’s Dare, and Flora’s Fury are the kind of books that make you feel like coming home after a long trip. You fall into this world’s alternate Calfornia and follow young Flora and her best friend Udo on crazy adventures. There’s twists and turns and quite a few emotional moments. Wilce’s use of language is quite brilliant and sets this series apart from other Middle Grade/YA tales.

Paperback Wonderland: August 2013

“I lit the lantern, ate a bar of chocolate, put on dry socks, and felt much better. You’d be amazed, said Nini Mo, how much dry socks matter.”

– Flora’s Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce


“It’s like Nini Mo said, They may be snapperheads, but they are my snapperheads.”

– Flora’s Fury by Ysabeau S. Wilce


This was one of those surprise books that I didn’t expect too much of and then it swept me away with its prose, its intricate characters, and the story it tells. Putting it on this list makes me want to re-read it immediately. Mechanique was so good, you guys! And it didn’t get nearly the attention it should have.

One day the wolf was wild enough to run into the forest near their camp, hunting something only it could sense. A week later when they pulled down the tent, the wolf had not come back. “Call it, if you want,” Boss told Jonah. “We’ll wait.”
That night Jonah stood for an hour at the edge of the camp, looking into the darkness of the woods. He came back empty-handed.
Ayar frowned. “It didn’t come?”
Jonah said, “I didn’t call.”

– Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine


Mini Reviews: Station Eleven and Persona

Emily St. John Mandel’s post-apocalyptic story was not on my radar. The way it was marketed made me shrink away, expecting something snobbish and aloof, looking down on all the other post-apocalyptic science fiction stories… But then the book kept being mentioned by people I very much trust. Honestly, though, it was the UK cover that hooked me in the end.
And Genevieve Valentine – well, I’ll read anything she writes so getting Persona was a no-brainer.

Both books are difficult to write about and many others have done so way better than I ever could. So all I’ve got for you are these mini-reviews, one full of love and one with some reservations.


station elevenStation Eleven deals with the time before and after a terrible flu wipes out 99% of humanity. When pretty much everything we have become used to is gone and it’s all about staying alive, a group of actors and musicians decide to live by one simple rule: Survival is insufficient! This, as well as a few other key lines, still stick with me months after reading the book. There are words and lines and entire chapters in this story that are almost too perfect. Like when you realise that holyfuckingshit, there is no more internet, and the author simply states at the end of the chapter: “No more avatars.”

Centered around actor Arthur Leander (who drops dead in chapter 1), we follow a cast of characters before and after the apocalypse. This is the Anti-Walking Dead! It’s not about stealing scraps of food from each other, about killing whoever you meet, about building shopping malls out of wood and a Q-tip. It’s about what happens after that first time of chaos, when humanity tries to pick itself up and get its act together again. It’s about rebuilding and keeping memories alive. It’s about art and people who love art. I get all weepy just thinking about it.

To be honest, I forgot most characters’ names, but I clearly remember Mandel’s poignant, vivid language. How she chooses to focus on the small things, rather than the obvious ones. You won’t read about people’s last brutal moments succumbing to the Georgia Flu, you won’t find epic battles or government conspiracies. This is a quiet story about people who have seen the world collapse and are trying to move on. It’s beautiful and terrifying, gutting and upbeat, all at the same time. I tend to agree with George R.R. Martin that this would have well deserved a place on the Hugo shortlist.

RATING: 9/10 – Close to perfection


personaGenevieve Valentine doesn’t care what we expect of her, she’ll do something totally different with every book. Her steampunk circus novel Mechanique is vastly different from last year’s “Twelve Dancing Princesses” retelling set in the Roaring Twenties, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club. And yet again, this time with shiny new Saga Press, Valentine publishes something I wouldn’t have expected. A futuristic thriller about diplomats. Sort of.

Suyana is the Face for the United Amazonian Rainforest Confederation (UARC), which means she is a cross between embassador and beauty pageant contestant. Governments choose Faces to represent them, and much like celebrities, these Faces are hounded by paparazzi, their outfits analysed to shit by the tabloids, and their private life inspected in every minute detail. When wannabe-paparazzo Daniel witnesses an assassination attempt on Suyana, his decency kicks in and he helps her get away, rather than taking snapshots of her being killed.

From there, we dive deeper into the rabbit hole of politics, conspiracies and wearing a mask foryour entire life. I wasn’t a big fan of the plot (not much there, really) but I loved, loved, loved Suyana’s quiet character. You can just feel the anger bubbling underneath the surface but you’d never know from looking at her perfectly composed face. Trained to never be themselves, the Faces reminded me a lot of beauty pageants where everybody wears that same fake smile, says only what makes them look good, and wears ridiculous outfits to “represent” their cultural heritage. It’s little details like Suyana’s dress with palm leaf print that gives this book depth.

Valentine’s language is more mainstream than in her other novels. Her use of parentheses to hit her readers straight in the guts is still there, but much less frequent and less effective. Suyana being distant by default, it was hard to connect with her. I watched her, intrigued but from afar. Daniel on the other hand was easy to like but ultimately forgettable. I got glimpses of his past, but not enough to really get hooked. However, some of the side characters really stood out, even if they were only in one or two scenes. Valentine is still a master of characterisation and I will continue to eat up her books.

This was an excellently-written book with too little plot for my taste. It makes up for that with brilliant characters, effortless diversity, and fantastic world-building.

RATING: 7,5/10 –  Very good


Something completely different:

One of my favorite artists out there is Abigail Larson. Check out her work here. She once illustrated a children’s book that I’ve been trying to get my hands on. Alas, no more copies available. Except author and illustrater started another Kickstarter campaign to publish a second printing.

If you like Abigail’s art as much as I do and are interested in a copy of the book, support Sarah Faire and the House at the End of the World. I am writing this mostly out of selfishness, because I really, really, really want a copy of that story!

FTF Book Review: Genevieve Valentine – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Genevieve Valentine managed to become one of my top ten authors of all time with just one book. Mechanique was so close to perfection that from the moment I finished reading, I wanted to pick it up again. Short stories by the same author had a similar effect and this second novel of hers was no different.

girls at the kingfisher clubTHE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB
by Genevieve Valentine

Published by: Atria Books, 2014
Hardcover: 277 pages
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: By 1927 there were twelve girls who danced all night and never gave names, but by then the men had given up asking and called them all Princess.

divider1Fairy Tales Retold

  • The Twelve Dancing Princesses


From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a “gorgeous and bewitching” (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.

With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.


This will be a difficult review to write because as much as I adore Genevieve Valentine’s writing style – and it is quite unlike anything else I’ve read – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club had a very tough time competing with Mechanique. Excepting Cat Valente, no other book has hit me as hard in recent years as that steampunk extravaganza. And yet, a fairy tale retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” set in the Roaring Twenties? That sounded wonderful.

With a retelling of this particular fairy tale, the hardest part must and will always be bringing twelve – I repeat: twelve! – characters to life and giving them distinct personalities. One or the other will always have to be a little more vague, or else you need a 1500 page novel to introduce them all. Not so Genevieve Valentine. Her prose is precise and streamlined and, maybe because of that, always hits the mark. Every word is carefully chosen for the biggest effect. It is her careful word choice (and the little remarks she throws into the story within parentheses) that make her characters feel real in almost no time at all.

Jo – The General – is the strict eldest daughter of the bunch, the one who keeps the Hamilton girls together, who organises their bi-nightly outings, who makes sure nobody gets left behind. In many ways, she functions as the girls’ mother figure, but she dances on the edge of resembling her father more – and she struggles with the knowledge that she might, someday in a terrible world where everything goes wrong, become like him. For Jo, the number one concern will always be Lou, her closest sister. The relationship between the two is so beautiful and heartbreaking and as much about what’s not said as about what is. Lou knows Jo and Jo knows Lou – and so they converse without words, even without glances. It is a pleasure to read about them.

girls at the kingfisher club

The younger the girls get, the less we learn about them. But Valentine made sure to give them all a personality, even if it has little time to shine. With two pairs of twins, one sister who is a lesbian, one whose beauty far surpasses that of anyone else, and some who just really, really love to dance, you’ve got twelve heads who each dream of one thing: freedom.

The threat of being discovered always lingers in the background, and their ruthless father makes sure they know just how little he cares about them as people. He never forgave his late wife for not giving him a son and marrying off his numerous daughters, one by one to the highest bidder, seems like a deal worth making. So for a long time, this is also a depressing story. Twelve girls, locked up and forbidden to be themselves. All the more amazing when they do break out of their life.

I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that they can flee from their oppressive father. Because what happens afterwards is not exactly a horseride into the sunset with their fairy tale prince. What comes after is hard work, learning who they are, finding a place in the world. And for Jo, it means letting go, giving the girls room to find themselves, to stop being The General. The emotional weight of certain scenes is astounding and the ending left me half laughing with happiness, and half sobbing with uncertainty.

She was still trying to discover how people related to each other, and how you met the world when you weren’t trying to hide something from someone. It was a lesson slow in coming.

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club is about dancing girls, sure. But it is also an emotional journey, a coming-of-age story, a tale of amazing women finding where they belong. And I heartily recommend everybody pick it up. And once you’re done, do yourself a favor and read Mechanique.

RATING: 8/10  – Excellent

Second opinions:

Genevieve Valentine – Mechanique

Expectations can go either way. Sometimes a book cover or a blurb influences you so much that you believe you know exactly what to expect from a story. With this novel, it was mostly the current steampunk and dystopia hype that led me to expect a Hunger Games/Parasol Protectorate knock-off. I couldn’t have been more wrong and I’m glad my prejudices didn’t keep me from discovering one of the best books I have ever read.


by Genevieve Valentine

published: 2011
ISBN: 1607012537
pages: 284
copy: ebook and paperback

my rating: 9,5/10

first sentence: The tent is draped with strings of bare bulbs, with bits of mirror tied here and there to make it sparkle. (It doesn’t look shabby until you’ve already paid.)

Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, but while the Circus is performing, the world is magic. That magic is no accident: Boss builds her circus from the bones out, molding a mechanical company that will survive the unforgiving landscape. But even a careful ringmaster can make mistakes. Two of Tresaulti’s performers are trapped in a secret stand-off that threatens to tear the Circus apart, just as the war lands on their doorstep. Now they must fight a war on two fronts: on from the outside, and a more dangerous one from within…

There are books that only take a page to make you envious of the author’s talent. Genevieve Valentine has all my envy and jealousy and respect for doing with words what she did in this debut novel. Every word is perfect, every sentence full of meaning and every chapter like a story of its own. Books like this remind me again why I read genre fiction. Because Valentine could be named among any of the contemorary greats of literature – if I had any say in it, I’d throw pretty much every literary award her way I can think of.

This is the story of a circus, told for the most part out of Little George’s point of view. He is a little boy who doesn’t miss much, and narrates the story superbly. His sparse, but poignant words put life into the characters and their sometimes unfathomable relationships to each other. We are told slowly, and chapter by chapter, who came to the circus, why they joined and – perhaps most interestingly at first – what really happened to Alec. The Winged Man has been dead since before the story starts but his death (and life, for that matter) remains a mystery.

It takes Genevieve Valentine maybe two sentences to create a character that feels like a living, breathing creature. After soaking up every word of this story, I don’t feel I truly know any of them, not at their core. I love how we don’t get smacked over the head with information, with character traits or what drives them. Valentine shows, she doesn’t tell. And sometimes she doesn’t show very much either. I love an author who trusts their readers to use their own heads to figure out what’s really going on. Having an unreliable narrator makes it even more interesting to define just what shade of grey each of the characters are.

There is a heavy steampunk element to this story, though not at all like I expected. It is not about zeppelins and goggles, the brass and copper used in this tale is well incorporated into the world and the subtle magic system. For the most part, it is a novel about people, though. About their dreams and what they’re willing to do to get to them, about their fears and about love, and how far it can push them. As emotionally layered as the circus troupe is, I wouldn’t even have needed a plot. Just discovering these brilliant people would have been enough.

But the author, mostly known for short fiction before this novel, has a plot in store for us. It may be slow to begin but turns into a suspenseful adventure with the most perfect ending I could have imagined. Except of course for the one flaw: the fact that it does end.

Stylistically, this may be a difficult read for some. Valentine jumps randomly between a third-person narrative and first-person narrative (from different characters’ points of view) to an occasional second-person narrative. As if that weren’t confusing enough at times, we switch tenses from past to present. It is further proof of her writing skill that I always knew in whose head I was and when – chronologically speaking – this particular chapter was taking place. Because being told in present tense does not automatically mean that the chapter isn’t a flashback to a few years prior to the main plot. If that makes sense to you. It is a challenge but one I was happy to take and that turned out to make a delightful change from your boring old straightly told story.

There were so many parts of this book that I found so quotable, I’d love to fill a whole notebook with it. Here’s an example of Valentine’s voice. Jonah has accidentally adopted a wolf. It’s been running around the circus but slowly turns wilder and wilder. And it’s time to take down the tents and move on.

One day the wolf was wild enough to run into the forest near their camp, hunting something only it could sense. A week later when they pulled down the tent, the wolf had not come back. “Call it, if you want,” Boss told Jonah. “We’ll wait.”
That night Jonah stood for an hour at the edge of the camp, looking into the darkness of the woods. He came back empty-handed.
Ayar frowned. “It didn’t come?”
Jonah said, “I didn’t call.”

I have no words to describe what an experience this book was. After I finished, a sadness swept over me and made me want to return (immediately) to that strange, sinister world of the Circus Tresaulti. I caught myself re-reading my favourite passages, soaking up the words. I sincerely hope Valentine will win the Nebula Award for this novel. It’s definitely one of my highlights this year, if not ever.

THE GOOD: Poetic language, playing with styles, deeply touching characters, suspenseful plot, original use of steampunk.
THE BAD: If anything, it was too short.
THE VERDICT: A challenging, unique read that has haunted me all year and is recommended to anyone who reads speculative fiction.

RATING:  9,5/10  –  Damn near perfection!

Read the first five chapters for free as well as three short stories in the world of Circus Tresaulti (also highly recommended, especially the one about Panadrome, “Study, for Solo Piano“).

Other reviews:

Genevieve Valentine – Mechanique

Mit Erwartungen ist das so eine Sache. Oft wird man durch die Covergestaltung oder den Klappentext eines Buches so stark beeinflusst, dass man sich sicher wähnt, welche Geschichte einen erwartet. Medienpräsenz, Auszeichnungen und Buchkritiken können da ebenfalls ihren Teil beitragen.
Bei mir war es eine Mischung aus alledem, gepaart mit dem momentanen Hype um Steampunk-Bücher und jugendliche Helden in dystopischen Welten. Und was bin ich froh, dass meine Erwartungen hier nicht nur über den Haufen geworfen, sondern um ein Tausendfaches übertroffen wurden.

Deutscher Titel: noch nicht bekannt
Erschienen: 2011
Seiten: 284
Erschienen bei: Prime Books

Meine Bewertung: 9,5/10

Erster Satz: The tent is draped with strings of bare bulbs, with bits of mirror tied here and there to make it sparkle. (It doesn’t look shabby until you’ve already paid.)

Es gibt Bücher, bei denen man neidisch wird, dass man nicht selbst so wundervoll schreiben kann wie die Autorin. In Mechanique ist jedes Wort perfekt, jeder Satz durchdacht und jedes Kapitel wie ein Gedicht. Bücher wie dieses rufen mir wieder in Erinnerung, warum ich Genre-Literatur lese. Denn Genevieve Valentine steht in sprachlichem Können den großen Schriftstellern unserer Zeit in nichts nach. Hätte ich etwas zu sagen, würde ich ihr jeden nur erdenklichen Preis für dieses Meisterwerk hinterherwerfen.

Little George ist Teil des Zirkus Tresaulti, der vor jeder noch stehenden Stadt sein Zelt aufschlägt und mit künstlerischen Akten fasziniert. Ayar, der Starke Mann mit der Wirbelsäule aus Stahl, die fliegenden Mädchen auf ihren Trapezen, die Jongleure und die akrobatischen Grimaldi-Brüder, Jonah, der Junge mit der Uhrwerk-Lunge…

Genevieve Valentine schafft es, Charaktere innerhalb von zwei Sätzen zum Leben zu erwecken, ihnen eine Vergangenheit und eine Zukunft zu geben und das scheinbar mühelos. Dieses Buch mischt Genres wie kein anderes. Teil Steampunk-Buch, Teil Charakterstudie, mit einer sehr versteckten Liebesgeschichte in einer dystopischen Welt. Mit Bravour jongliert sie diesen Mix und trifft stets den richtigen Ton.

Die Autorin springt nicht nur wild in der Zeit herum, sie wechselt auch immer wieder die Erzählperspektive. Während der Großteil des Romans von Little George in der Ich-Perspektive erzählt wird, springt die Erzählung in manchen Kapiteln in die dritte Person und zeitweise sogar in die zweite Person. Diese Du-Sicht gefällt mir normalerweise gar nicht, aber hier weiß man immer ganz genau, wer dieses “du” ist und diese Persepktive wurde so gut gewählt, dass es mir erst nach mehreren Kapiteln aufgefallen ist.. Und auch diese Mischung funktioniert ausgezeichnet. Da Genevieve Valentine den Leser direkt anspricht, fühlt man sich dicht im Geschehen und erlebt wirklich mit, was in der Manege vor sich geht. Man sieht das Geschehen durch die Augen verschiedenster Charaktere und weiß nur sehr selten mehr als die Zirkustruppe.

Hier eine sehr schöne Passage, in der Jonah mehr oder weniger unfreiwillig einen Wolf adoptiert hat, der sich dem Zirkus angeschlossen hat und nun langsam immer wilder wird:

One day the wolf was wild enough to run into the forest near their camp, hunting something only it could sense. A week later when they pulled down the tent, the wolf had not come back. “Call it, if you want,” Boss told Jonah. “We’ll wait.”
That night Jonah stood for an hour at the edge of the camp, looking into the darkness of the woods. He came back empty-handed.
Ayar frowned. “It didn’t come?”
Jonah said, “I didn’t call.”

Mir fehlen die Worte um zu beschreiben, was für ein Erlebnis dieses Buch war. Nach der letzten Seite überkommt einen Trauer und man wünscht sich zurück in diese seltsame, düstere Welt des Zirkus Tresaulti. Man ertappt sich dabei wie man zu den schönsten Passagen zurückblättert und die Worte in sich aufsaugt. Meine Daumen für den Nebula-Award sind gedrückt und ich denke, es ist nicht zu früh um zu sagen, dass dieses Buch eines meiner Jahreshighlights wird.

PRO: Poetische Sprache, tiefgehende Charaktere, ein spannender Plot, originelle Ideen und interessanter Stilmix.
CON: Mir fällt nichts, aber auch gar nichts ein, was ich hier zu beanstanden hätte.
FAZIT: Absolut lesenswert, für ein sehr junges Publikum vielleicht etwas verwirrend.


Auf der Homepage zum Roman findet man die ersten Seiten als Leseprobe, Videos und Infos sowie Kurzgeschichten über den Zirkus Tresaulti (genau darauf werde ich mich sofort stürzen).