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Iphigenia Laurus is the adopted daughter of a noble family in the kingdom of Ellada, which has a mysterious history. She was raised as a girl, but sometimes thinks she should be a boy instead. When the time comes for her to be betrothed, Iphigenia runs away and joins the circus, telling the manager her name is Micah Grey and that she wants to train as an aerialist.

The circus folk aren’t welcoming, and Micah finds he has to work hard to prove himself. He endures persecution and jokes, especially from the clowns, but is eventually accepted as a performer. He starts to develop a relationship with the female trapeze artist Aenea and makes friends with the clown Drystan. Micah is embarrassed by the sudden onset of puberty and hides this from everyone, including Aenea. Although Micah feels safe at the circus, all is not well. The manager is misusing the income, and things come to a head when his wife disappears, leading to a violent conclusion.

This is an excellent young adult novel, more slipstream than anything else. The characters are engaging and the setting exotic. There is a definite twist as the novel progresses, causing most reviewers to worry about spoilers. Although the reader will be drawn into Micah’s efforts to find a safe place to be who he is, the history of Ellada hints at a greater destiny. It’s not revealed in this book, but there are two more in the trilogy, so I guess we’ll eventually see what this is. The crisis at the end pretty much destroys what Micah has built, and he takes up the next chapter of his life on the run and looking for safety again. Four stars.

This novel won the 2014 Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction.

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