Review of Spark and Carousel by Joanne Hall

Spark and CarouselSpark and Carousel by Joanne Hall

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It's very different to a lot of fantasy I've read, and refreshingly so. It has a touch of grimdark, a gritty realism that runs through it and helps to make a compelling narrative.
The main characters include a teenage boy who can't control his magic powers, Spark, and an older girl who befriends him when he hides in the big city, having committed what he regards as an unforgiveable crime. He believes himself hunted and takes refuge in the criminal underworld where he is befriended by the feisty Carousel,  a "street rat". Carousel is a waif; tough yet vulnerable, on the edge of womanhood, who has grown up under the protection of a (mostly) benevolent underworld baron, and who aspires to work in a brothel, without fully understanding the hardship involved.

The two Mages who come to rescue - or punish - Spark are my favourite characters: Kayall, the man, is a peacock who loves good clothes, sleeping with men and women, and beer. Elvienne, the woman, is more austere, but a strong and powerful character. She is much older than Kayall, and she is definitely the leader, someone of greater wisdom than her charming but unreliable friend.
The story builds to a satisfying conclusion. I was caught up in the fate of the eponymous hero and heroine; Carousel in particular is strong and likeable, much more than a victim of her circumstances. And the city itself is like a character in the story, with a believable history that is hinted at. Spark grows throughout the story, and has to try to control his powers, which have unleashed a demonic threat.

View all my reviews


Popular Posts