I have been lucky enough to be given an advance copy of Spark and Carousel by Jo Hall in exchange for an honest review. Jo is another Grimmie, but if I don’t like the book, I will be saying that! So, without further ado…
I loved this book.
I have previously read some of Jo’s other writing, and I admit I wasn’t entirely certain of that story. It’s wonderful writing but the characters, the world, didn’t grab me; I found it hard to get into the story. This book is set in the same world, but it grabbed me from the start.
Spark and Carousel is wonderful.
It’s magic and cities and brilliantly written characters. It’s loyalty and love and learning. It’s choices, and the echoes of those choices. It’s a boy having to deal with decisions that he doesn’t want to make, with power that he doesn’t want but can’t get rid of, with feelings that he isn’t sure what to do with. It’s a girl, a woman, trying to choose the path that will keep her safest, stepping between loyalties and loves and the simple practicality of trying to survive. And in the midst of their relationship, there’s a city torn by factions and then by a bigger danger that forces Spark to confront everything he doesn’t want to face.
Carousel is fiery, vulnerable, wilful and fierce; Spark is lost, lonely, scared and angry; the villain is beautiful, scheming, charming and spine-chillingly evil. Their loyalties and choices are brilliantly mapped, and the wider web of decisions fractures the city.
My favourite character has to be Kayall, if only for his love of shoes and his continual despair when he’s forced to abandon them. Jo’s writing is effortless, and the story flows beautifully; I was forced to stop reading half-way through and was counting the hours until I could start again! This is a fantasy story that has gripping characters, an increasingly enthralling danger, and a wonderful cast and world that makes it a pleasure to read and re-read.