There was just something about the book cover art and title that made me want to read Deva Fagan’s Circus Galacticus. I’ve known three people who previously worked in circuses, which always fascinated me. How cool it would be to have an intergalactic circus! Creatures from every galaxy coming to your hometown – WooHoo! After reading it, I can truthfully say this is going to appeal to people of all ages. After all, hasn’t everyone wanted to run away and join the circus at some point? You don’t have to be a scifi or fantasy fan to enjoy this one.
Beatrix Ling, known as Trix, has been an orphan ever since her astronaut parents died in a fiery explosion. She attends Bleeker Academy, which is aptly named, on a scholarship. Being a scholarship student doesn’t help matters because the snooty, privileged girls who make up the majority of her classmates never let her forget she’s not one of them. Even the headmistress looks down her nose at Trix, constantly reminding her that she’s a charity case. The last straw comes when Trix is punished again for something another girl did, and the headmistress refuses to allow her to participate in the state gymnastic competition. Gymnastics is what Trix lives for, the only bright spot in an otherwise torturous school existence, and she was counting on it to help her get into college.
“I brush a hand across my face. I’m no crybaby, but that [gymnastics] scholarship was my last chance, and now it’s gone. How can this be my life? Were my folks lying? How could they leave me in this horrible place, thinking I’m something special? Maybe I am a deluded freak.”
The one thing Trix has left to remember her parents by is a black chunk of space rock they told her to never let anyone know about and to keep it safe always. It’s her prize possession but she can’t help being curious about what it is and why it’s so important. One night when she can’t sleep, she notices a shadowy figure standing on the street outside the dorm. That same bizarre man, named Nyl and wearing shades and a weird mask with breathing tubes, gets into her dorm room and tries to take her rock from her. As they struggle, she bashes him in the face with it and he runs away. After he leaves, she notices it has a crack in it that was never there before.
The next morning she wakes up to find that her hair has turned bright pink overnight. Now she thinks she really must look like a freak. She dreads going to class. A circus poster on the wall for Circus Galacticus draws her attention despite her vow to keep a low profile. It looks really interesting but for some reason no one else standing there can read part of the poster, the most interesting part. They think she’s an even bigger freak because she insists it says things they can’t see.
Of course Trix goes to check out Circus Galacticus – how could she not given that she’s seen things on the poster that seem aimed at her alone? As she’s trying to find the place the poster talks about, Nyl finds her instead.
“Nyl stared at me. At least I think he’s staring. It’s hard to tell with the shades. ‘Your hair…’ His shoulders droop slightly. ‘You should have given me the stone when I asked for it, Beatrix. I could have stopped this.’
‘Don’t tell me my pink hair is going to destroy the universe. I mean, it’s a little bright, but it’s not radioactive.’…
‘..And now you can give it to me before it corrupts you further. I can still help you, Beatrix. We can cleanse you of the taint. You can be one of us.’”
She races to get away from him. When she explores the house of mirrors as directed on the poster, she becomes sure that he’s still following her. Panicked to hide and protect the rock, she manages to step through one of the mirrors, and finds a whole new world of people just like her.
This is the point where Circus Galacticus really takes off (pun intended) and becomes an action-adventure among the stars. You’ll meet the charismatic Ringmaster, learn about the ancient but ongoing battle between Nyl’s Mandate group and the Tinkers, meet wonderful performers from across the universe, ferret out spies, and see daring feats of bravery. I don’t want to give away more because it would spoil everything.
This is a wonderful story about finding strength and self-esteem, honoring diversity, rising above your past and temporary obstacles, and much more. I think people as young as 10 and as old as 90 will enjoy this one. Maybe it’s appropriate that the setting is outer space because the issues are very universal to us all.
Circus Galacticus was released on November 15, 2011, so it should be available from your favorite bookseller below:
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