Friday, June 10, 2022

Review: The Circus at the End of the Sea by Lori R. Snyder

 The title grabbed my attention on today's read. Combined with the cover, it promises magic, excitement, beach and fun...everything needed to make a perfect adventure. This one came out last year in October and appears to be a great Summer read for this season. Since I don't really know more, yet, I'm going to dive in and let's find out!

by Lori R. Snyder
Harper Collins
Middle Grade Fantasy
304 pages
ages 8 to 12

A vibrant and enchanting debut novel about an orphan girl who discovers a magical circus, perfect for fans of Kelly Barnhill and Rebecca Stead!

Maddy Adriana knows that magic is real. All her life, her heart has pulled her towards things too perfect to be ordinary. One day, that tug leads her to a magical street circus, hidden in plain sight among the canals and boardwalks of Venice Beach.

For the first time in Maddy’s life, she finally feels like she belongs. But the circus is in grave danger. Maddy will need to confront the frightening side of magic, as well as her own deepest fears, if she’s to have any hope of saving the place she dreams of calling home.

This unforgettable debut shows readers the magic of following your heart and finding where you belong. 



Dreamers will need to brace themselves because with this book, an exhilarating show is about to begin.

Maddy is on her way to a new group home. Again. Not because she saw things, which nobody else could. Not this time. For a year, she's suffered from a heart problem and needs 'special' care. When the vehicle suddenly breaks down, she sees magic flowing all around her on the nearby beach...Venice Beach. And it's calling to her. When the vehicle pulls away, nobody remembers she was supposed to be there. So she takes a chance and finally follows her heart and the magic, which has pulled at her all of her life. What she finds is beyond hers or anybody's wildest dreams...and it's not all glitter and jazz hands.

This is, by far, one of the most imaginative books I've come across in awhile. The author presents scene after scene and character after character chucked full of vivid fantasy to make dreams soar. While everything centers around a circus, it is so much more. There are snakes, griffins, mermaids, muses, sand acrobats, haunting bridges, and more than I could list. It was like being on an exciting roller coaster ride (which is also included, btw) with colors, images, and impossibilities flying by every milli-second. And that while taking the good and darker sides. There's danger, there's mystery, and there's  tons-o-tons of heart. While it's wild, it still makes wonderful sense. 

The beginning caught me as a bit cliche. Maddy is an orphan, who sees strange things and feels out of place. Already in the first pages, her huge care for others shines, making her impossible not to like and root for. The story eases into the magic, and then, hits with a swirl, which leaves a bit of confusion, but this is how it should be before things start sliding, in their own odd fashion, into place.

It's a quick read, since something is always, always happening. The writing is smooth, the characters vibrant, and the scenes amazing. Nope, there aren't heavy descriptions, which bog down, either. There are clear messages, especially at the end, which hit a bit too whole-heartedly sweet for my taste, but that is the only thing I'm nit-picking on, since this is a fun read and very well done.

Readers, who need both feet in 'normal' will feel over-whelmed, but those who love to dream are in for a treat.

And here she is...

In an alternate universe, Lori R. Snyder is a circus performer—probably an aerialist wearing a lot of glitter. In this universe, she’s had many different careers (none of which, sadly, are circus-related): marine biologist, fourth-grade teacher, dancer, yoga teacher and studio owner, book editor, and writer. Venice Beach is one of the great loves of her life, as are kindness, delight, and the sea, and The Circus at the End of the Sea is her love letter to all of those. Lori is also the founder of the Writers Happiness Movement, which offers free happiness tools to writers, at Find author info and supplementary materials for kids and educators at

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