Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.
But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.
Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.
The Circus of the Damned is a visual spectacle to behold. Cornelia Grey mixes Steampunk, Magic, a bit of dark paranormal and some m/m romance into an interesting storyline that left me questioning whether it wouldn’t be so bad to sign my soul over to a handsome devil named Farfarello and join the Circus of the Damned.
Gilbert Blake is a talented magician but his illusions are much more than simple parlor tricks. His ability is based on real magic and that ability makes him an outcast, a freak amongst normal humans but Gilbert refuses to acknowledge that he too is a freak. He tries to hide the truth of his nature by using his magic carefully, but his days of conning drunkards with magic tricks for money eventually catches up with him. A powerful crime boss named Rueben has his eyes set on Gilbert and Gilbert has no idea what he’s done to get Rueben’s attention. All he knows is that he needs to hide and the only place offering up sanctuary is a Circus full of freaks whom insist he must sign his soul over to the devil if they are to help him.
Gilbert finds himself trapped in a confusing world inhabited by an array of colorful characters. There’s a creepy evil clown, an octopus with impeccable manners, a set of precocious conjoined twin
girls, a dwarf who can create the most amazing contraptions, a mechanical elephant who wears a Top hat, a grumpy but sweet bear, a strong woman with a heart of gold and many other strange individuals. The leader of these colorful freaks is the Ringmaster Jesse. A mysterious man with dazzling green eyes whom Gilbert finds himself drawn to. The sexual tension between Gilbert and Jesse is undeniable and the two are hot together!
What I liked most about the story was how Gilbert found himself at the Circus. Before the Circus he was unsure of himself and he refused to acknowledge that he was different from normal people but as he spent more time at the Circus he developed a connection to the other members and with that connection he became more confident himself. The term freak no longer scared him and he proudly adopted it along with his new family of circus freaks.
Circus of the Damned is a fast paced and exciting story with action, romance and mystery. The descriptions had my mind reeling with the use of colorful and bigger than life visuals from the creepy
caravans to the bad guys swathed in purple ribbons. I enjoyed every moment of the world Cornelia created and I look forward to reading more stories from the Deal with the a Devil Series.