Around 1900, a circus mysteriously appears in new locations, stays for an undetermined amount of time, and disappears just as mysteriously. Although it all seems like a great illusion to normal circus-goers, the circus is actually fueled by magic and two young magicians who have been placed against their wills in a duel they cannot control or get out of. Their attraction toward each other seems inevitable to all but their masters.
Are you a circus fan? I am not and in fact find them a bit creepy. No doubt that contributed to my feeling that this is a creepy book, although the child abuse could be a factor as well. (The person who sets up one of the two magicians in the contest is her father, and he sees no problem in injuring her to force her to heal herself and improve her magic.)
I found the jumps in time very hard to follow, and there are so many characters that at the end I still felt that I could not keep them straight. However, the plot feels original and fresh, and I think this novel will be wildly popular with the right reader. Anyone who loves magic, fantasy, and a little darkness in the books they read should definitely give it a try.