When Penguin Random House puts out a monstrous heap of pretty galleys at ALA Midwinter, you know they’re not kidding around. One of the books I was most psyched to grab back in late January was Cassie Beasley’s debut. (Admission: Cassie graduated from VCFA the semester before me and I was completely blown away by her reading, so I had an inkling this book was going to be special.)
Circus Mirandus grabbed me from the very first page; Cassie Beasley has complete control over this story, which expertly unfolded from the very first instant. From his deathbed, Micah’s grandpa Ephraim makes a dying wish: for the Lightbender he’d met years ago at Circus Mirandus to return and grant him his wish. But what is his wish, readers will wonder, just as I had.
Moving effortlessly between past and present, we come to know Ephraim when he was a young boy like Micah, and how he stumbled upon Circus Mirandus with a fish providing him admission. In the present, we see Micah, struggling with a great-aunt who couldn’t care less about him as he beloved grandfather’s health fails, and finding a friend in his classmate Jenny, a well-meaning know-it-all, who struggles to believe in magic. That is, until Circus Mirandus comes to town, again, and both Micah and Jenny are drawn into its magic, intent on saving Ephraim.
Cassie Beasley’s story reads like an instant classic, which, trust me, is pretty rare these days. Circus Mirandus will leave you believing in magic, and in the power of family and love and friendship. I can’t wait for June, when this book will reach a much, much wider audience.
It’s going to be magical.