"Boss always tells the rubes that her late husband made us all.
'Oh lord,' she says when they wonder about our mechanicals. 'I can barely oil the things, let alone!'
She doesn't say what she lets alone, and no one asks...
I think she says it so that they get the feeling that we could break at any moment. It's always more exciting to watch something you know could backfire.
'We saw the last performance,' they would be able to say.
'We saw the final act of the Circus Tresaulti, before everything went wrong.'
But there's no mistaking what she can do, not among us real folk, no matter what she tells the crowd.
(I didn't understand her. I had been with the circus too long; I felt too safe to know why it was better to make some things seem breakable and frail. I didn't know who might come looking for us, if they thought we were strong enough to take hold.)"
-from Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine
The Circus Tresaulti is one of the few circuses left. Aerial performers shock and delight, and the tumblers and jugglers thrill the younger members of the audience. It is a welcome respite from the war that tears at the land, and more than one of its performers has been scarred by the fighting. The finale is what always captures the crowd, when Alec, the winged man, soars above the ring. Until he fell, and the government man came to see the show.
In a time of war, the talent in the Circus Trevaulti can attract unwanted attention.
For when you audition for the Circus Tresaulti, you literally put your life in the Boss's hands. It's a good thing that her hands are skillful beyond mortal means. If you are in want of a new arm, a new heart, or even a pair of wings, she can give you whatever you need.
Welcome to the circus. Please enjoy the show.
This book, like the circus at its center, is much more than meets the eyes, for in Mechanique, it is the inner lives of the circus members that drive the narrative.
Stenos and Bird, two acrobat performers, are engaged in a never-ending struggle to prove themselves worthy to take up the retired wings of Alec, a competition that follows them into the ring.
George, a barker, has lived with the circus his entire life, and wants nothing more than to really become a part of the circus.
Elena, the leader of the aerial performers, seems driven by her cruelty.
But like the mechanical adaptions that the Boss has given to almost every performer, there is always another layer to the story, and these layers are brilliantly evident here. The chapters are told by many different members of the circus, but George is the only character to speak in first person, thus giving a near-outsider's perspective on the workings of the circus.
The author presents each character as a fully realized person, and you truly care for each of them by the time the story reaches its end.
Valentine's lyrical writing powers the story, and her prose carries the narrative through any rough patches, despite the gritty nature of the plot.
I would sum this book up as a dark, tense, poetic read. It is a true pleasure to attend the Circus Tresaulti.