Skycircus is book three in the Cogheart series. I will confess I often start series but rarely keep going. Clearly this is not true for the Cogheart books. They are wonderful. When I spied book three in a store late last year I didn't even look at the price sticker (who cares how much it cost I needed to read this book) and this week, with great anticipation, I dived back into the steampunk world of Lily, Robert, and their mechanical fox Malkin. Here the four book in the series:
As the title suggests the friends end up at the circus but this is a sinister circus where the acts are hybrids - half human half machine. Lily is tricked into attending the Skycircus which is being held near her home. It is the night of her fourteenth birthday and she is in a bad mood because it seems her father is distracted with other matters and her birthday celebration has been overlooked. When a mysterious invitation arrives in a parcel Lily does not hesitate. She does not think about consequences. She does not smell a trap - but you will! She asks her friends Robert and Tolly and her mechanical fox Malkin to come too.
Here is the invitation:
This all seems okay BUT on the bottom is a message for Lily:
"This VIP ticket entitles Lily Hartman and three friends to visit us and receive answers.
PS Angelique would like to meet you after the show."
Answers? Also included with this circus invitation Lily has been sent a diary written by her late mother. This is so wonderful because Lily's father doesn't talk about Grace since her death seven years ago. There is a letter with the book and this is why, as a reader, I was yelling at Lily NOT to go to the circus.
"We have a simple question, and it's one that's not a trick:
Some us are wondering what it is that makes you tick?"
Lily has a cogheart - a mechanical heart. Her heart is supposed to be a secret. It somehow never needs winding and it will never stop - a perpetual motion machine. Others would love to know the secret that makes this device tick.
The three friends do go to the circus along with Malkin and YES it is a horrible trap and the plan by the circus boss Madame Lyons Mane is truly dreadful.
A rollicking adventure story helmed by a plucky, imperfect heroine, a diligent, caring friend, and a smart-aleck fox, skycircus embeds its rich steampunk europe with issues of body and identity that are relevant in the modern zeitgeist. Forewordreviews
This is a grand book with a plot as tense as tiptoeing the tightrope, and bold narration that shouts as loudly as the red and white stripes of the circus tent. Minerva Reads
An exceptional adventure, wonderfully told, this book is a complete joy from start to finish and i just can’t recommend it enough. Booklover Jo
Skycircus can stand alone but I highly recommend you do try to read the preceding books - Cogheart and Moonlocket - The strength of this writing comes from the team work of the friends, the determination of Lily to help others and the way Peter Bunzl gives the reader hints which are rather like the background music you might hear in a movie or television program. Think of the music track that lets you know something bad is about to happen but you are powerless to prevent it. This book also made me think of The Greatest Showman - the movie.
Here are a few text quotes to give you an idea of this idea - one word or two can turn an simple sentence into something quite sinister:
"In the sky, the grey scudding clouds were rimmed with gold, like sweat-stains on the silk lining of an old hat."
"His ghostly face was white with powder. A black make-up snake squiggled round one eye and a painted teardrop fell from the other, making him look positively frightening."
"When she'd leaned in close to whisper, the aroma had cut through the sawdust and animals smells of the circus ring. It lingered like a memory Lily couldn't quite place, faint and out of reach."
"The grey murk descended again ... he shivered at the odd slimy feeling of it against his footpads."
In this video Peter talks about Skycircus. Click here to see the cover come to life!
Here are some books I would suggest you look for after reading Skycircus: