Review Blog

Feb 06 2017

Ned's Circus of Marvels by Justin Fisher

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Ned's Circus of Marvels bk 1. HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9780008124526
(Age:12+) Film and television animator and designer Justin Fisher's debut novel Ned's Circus of Marvels conjures up a frenetically paced fantasy adventure, with a huge cast of bizarre characters set in an alternate world beyond the Veil. Here, mysteries unfurl, dark magic abounds and good and evil forces fight for control. Fisher weaves an intricate multi-layered story, where he combines elements of steam punk engineering with a coming of age tale and a quest to bring two pivotal characters together to save the world.
Ned Waddlesworth is an ordinary boy who lives with his engineer father in the quiet London suburb of Grittlesby. Unbeknownst to Ned, he holds the key to saving the world and his life will dramatically change forever on his thirteenth birthday. With evil clowns chasing them, his father races him across town to the safety of Benissimo's Circus of Marvels. George the talking, book reading, banana loving giant ape becomes his protector, Ringmaster Benissimo is there to guide Ned's journey and blind Kitty the farseer and witch supplies him with sage advice and wisdom. The circus performers are really a trained army of creatures, shape shifters and darklings, ready to wage war to save the world. Ned constantly questions the people and creatures around him, as well as trying to come to terms with a travelling circus that flies to different locations.
The overarching plot is lost in the middle of the narrative, with so many subplots, character additions and deviations. Ned's search for Lucy the other key holder who can stop the veil disintegrating needed to be central to the storyline. There are however, moments of love, sacrifice, humour and friendliness, a family reunion all set against the preparation for war and the ultimate marathon battle led by warring brothers.
Ned's Circus of Marvels is suited to the confident reader who enjoys reading fast-paced fantasy adventures.
Rhyllis Bignell

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