Joanne Owen is no stranger to the world of truly imaginative story telling, as such her latest novel, Circus Of The Unseen, flows to reveal the rich tapestry of a unique, hypnotising landscape.
Circus Of The Unseen opens with an extract from a folktale featuring young Vasilisa. It is a tale that is slowly revealed as the novel progresses, for the true focus of the narrative is on young Rosie.
Rosie is off to visit her grandmother. It is a time she relishes, even the journey to the cottage is full of promise and memories. Whilst the cottage itself? 'It was like something from a fairy tale.'
Immediately things aren't right.
Granny isn't right.
Those tales from the past are becoming more serious, more urgent.
In the aftermath of Granny's sudden death, Rosie herself is transported to a strange land. Intriguingly she can hear the voices of her family yet she can't reach them.
'All I could hear was inside my own head, and all I could see was inside my head. The earth had swallowed me up.'
Owen has populated this fantastical land with a myriad of quirky characters in a setting akin to a circus. Her protagonist has choices to make, and mysteries to solve as she - and the reader - become increasingly absorbed into this new and confusing landscape as both are encouraged to pull the pieces together.
'I had this horrible creeping feeling that this circus wasn't actually part of the world I knew.'
Owen has deftly weaved a myriad of elements into the plot - fairytale, gothic, a family mystery. The exciting trail of threads will both challenge and intrigue the reader. Just perfect for middle grade readers, aged 10+.