The Chaos Circus by R. Dugan tells the story of Tessa, a young woman who desperately wants to live a normal ordinary life, but when her most prized possession is stolen from her Tessa must risk everything to get it back. She follows Nicolai to the Mirror Lands and the home of The Chaos Circus where mortals trade days of their lives to play the circus’s games and the change to win incredible prizes. Tessa enters one of these games where she must face five potentially deadly trials. If she succeeds she’ll be granted a wish, but will she wish for the name of the thief who stole her necklace or something else.
I’m giving Dugan’s debut novel 4 stars. There is an almost lyrical quality to the writing that I thought fit perfectly into the unique world that Dugan created. Her descriptions were vivid and enthralling though at times I did find them to be a little excessive at times and slowed the action down a little for me. This is purely a personal preference as I tend to like minimum descriptions in the books I write and read.
The characters are amazingly complex and relatable. I fell in love with Nicolai after his first few lines of dialogue. His cool charming confidence drew me to him instantly. As you get to know him throughout the book the hidden pain inside him made me love him even more and all I wanted to do was wrap him up in a blanket and give him a hug.
Tessa’s journey to discover herself was so much fun to read. Her struggle between who society thought she should be and who she wanted to be was so relatable. I loved watching her grow more and more sure of herself with each test and slowly cast of expectations of her to find her true self. The inner strength she finds as she struggles to remember her past was inspirational.
The whole book is a great and enjoyable read, but the last 100 pages were absolute perfection. I was blown away with the action, character growth and twists that Dugan brought to the climax of this book. Once I got to this point I could not put it down until I had finished. I highly recommend everyone picks up a copy of The Chaos Circus.
On a personal note, I’ve gotten to know Renee over the last few years and consider her one of my closet friends. We first met on the NaNoWriMo forums. From there we were pulled into a cabin during CampNaNoWriMo about two years ago. I think there were about 15 of us in the cabin but 6 of us stayed after camp was over and have been writing together ever since. That was 2 years ago. Renee is one of the kindest and most encouraging people I’ve ever met. She is so talented, and I can’t wait for her to release her next project. It’s going to be amazing!