Sep 21 2012 6:00am
We have a special two chapter excerpt and a gorgeous cover reveal for Pantomime by Laura Lam, out on February 5, 2013 from Strange Chemistry!
Click the cover to enlarge.
R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass – remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone – are wonders beyond the wildest imagination. It’s a place where anything seems possible, where if you close your eyes you can believe that the magic and knowledge of the vanished Chimaera is still there. It’s a place where anyone can hide.
Iphigenia Laurus, or Gene, the daughter of a noble family, is uncomfortable in corsets and crinoline, and prefers climbing trees to debutante balls. Micah Grey, a runaway living on the streets, joins the circus as an aerialist’s apprentice and soon becomes the circus’s rising star.
But Gene and Micah have balancing acts of their own to perform, and a secret in their blood that could unlock the mysteries of Ellada.
1. Summer: Audition
They say magic left the world with the Chimaera and the Alder. Whether they perished or abandoned us for the stars, the magic has leeched from the earth and left us only its scattered remnants. Its Vestige. They say perhaps if the Chimaera and the Alder ever return, magic will as well.
I do not hold with such frivolity.
– A History of Ellada and its Colonies, Professor Caed Cedar, Royal Snakewood University
“Well, boy,” the ringmaster said. “What can you do?”
I swallowed. The clown who had found me eavesdropping tightened his grip on my shirt. “Pardon?” I asked.
He chuckled. “Don’t tell me you’re simple. What can you do? Are you a fire-eater? An acrobat? A freak?”
I was a freak, but I could not tell him so. I took a breath, smelling hay and sand. “I…I’m good at climbing, sir. Like a squirrel.”
He raised his eyebrows and gave an amused look to the mirthful circus folk. “The boy can climb. Well, I’ve never come across someone with so rare and useful a skill. I’m afraid we already got someone to take the glass globes up and down.” He waved a hand toward the top of the tent and my eyes rested on the tightrope and the trapeze.
“It wouldn’t take much time to turn me into an acrobat that can walk the rope and swing from the… swing.” I pointed up at the trapeze, for I did not know what it was called.
“What’s your name, boy?” the ringmaster asked, eyeing me up and down. What he thought of me was clear on his face: scrawny runt.
“Micah Grey, sir.”
“Did Riley and Batheo’s Circus of Mundanities send you?” He must have meant Riley & Batheo’s Circus of Curiosities, the largest circus in Ellada.
“No, I have never seen Riley and Batheo.” I took another breath, which was difficult with the white clown still holding onto the scruff of my neck. “I want to join your circus.”
Everyone around me erupted into laughter. The greasepaint on the clowns’ faces creased, looking cruel, almost goblin-like. The dwarf tapped the giant on the shin and asked to be put on his shoulder so he had a better view.
“Well, little Micah. I’m sure you climb very well and all, but I think it’s best you run along back to your parents.”
I glanced at the two trapeze artists I had seen perform that night. The older man was grinning outright and the girl pressed four fingertips of her hand against her lips. When she saw me looking, she gave me a wink. It was enough.
“I’ll prove it to you, sir,” I said, and broke away from the clown and dashed toward the ladder to the tightrope. The circus folk jeered and catcalled. Their cries spurred me on. I clambered onto the small wooden platform and my head spun as I looked down, though I had climbed much higher than this in the past. I looked up at the trapeze and began to judge the distance.
“Hey, boy, come on, you’ve had your laugh, now come down!” the ringmaster called. “I don’t feel like peeling your corpse from the ground and having to give your parents a pancake for a son!”
I ignored him and bent my legs.
“Arik! Aenea! Go bring him down before he kills himself.” Far below, I saw the female aerialist, Aenea, run toward the rope and begin to climb.
As soon as I had seen the circus, I had known it would come to this. I had nowhere else to run to. The Policiers of the Constabulary were after me. There was no going back now.