Monday, August 13, 2012

Mechanique (Genevieve Valentine)

The Mechanical Circus Tresaulti travels a wide circuit. Little George, who has grown up in the circus, knows that the Boss calls them 'the circus that survives.' In a time of war, the circus travels from city to city with its astonishing feats, giving poor and tired spectators one night of entertainment from a harsh and unforgiving landscape. Thankfully, this mechanical circus survives because of Boss and her terrible secret. But all secrets must come to light. Genevieve Valentine's Mechanique A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is a tale of creation and consequence, flying and falling.

At the heart of this steampunk tale are wings made of gilded bone, worn in the finale for years, when they still had the Winged Man act. Now, two of their acrobats, Stenos and Bird, desire it for themselves, without knowing what it can do to its owner. While the wings are pivotal to the story, I am constantly drawn to the other steampunk elements of the story, most notably the circus characters. I think that Panadrome, a one-man band with a tragic history, fully captures what the Circus Tresaulti is about.

Aside from Panadrome, the other characters are all well-fleshed out, pardon the irony. My favorites include Little George, who took on the important first-person perspective in some chapters; Ying, a young orphan who came to the circus at a very young age and who didn’t really know what she was signing up for when she joined; and Bird. There is an innocence in the first two characters that summon powerful contrasts in a story like Mechanique,reminding the reader how humanity can be easily lost because of bitterness and poverty. And Bird? I don't know. I still don't know what it is exactly about her that makes her larger-than-life, fearsome and vulnerable at the same time; I only know that she's a character that stays with me long after the book has ended.

Mechanique is told in vignettes. These snippets and drabbles are not always chronological but they're careful enough not to mess with the attentive reader. It’s also told in various points-of-view and even shifts tenses. So how does it get away with it? Maybe it's the language; the whole thing reads like poetry. It’s just that beautiful. You really get caught up in the moment and read the book as you would experience a multi-act circus. Snatches of what could be real, what could be imagined. Lines blurring because you blinked. Don't let this one pass you by.

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