I mean, seriously, when faced with a choice of entering the real world or working for a very nasty man for the rest of your life...why don't you just shave your face and deal with the real world? Do I applaud Abigail for proudly sporting her beard? Yes, I do. She's been true to herself. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and this horrid man... I just...what happened to the fighting female? She bows down too easily.
Another reviewer, whom I greatly admire, posted a review and in it she talks about learned helplessness. She makes a very good point. Do go read it. But while I agree it's possible this happened with some of the performers, I am not convinced it could have happened to ALL, especially Abigail. Many other parts of this book, namely characters, were just too OTT and unbelievable also--the mayor for example. Seriously?? The ending also was a little far-fetched.
I also had some trouble with the historical setting. In book one I noticed this too--it's vague. I thought due to the references of war, that it was occurring during the great war or around then. My friend says it's the Victorian era, so book one must have occurred during the Boer war, I guess. Well, they didn't have plastic containers yet in the Victorian era, and that was mentioned in this book (the milking of the snakes), so it could use some more historical setting and whatever period chosen needs to be portrayed accurately.
That being said, I do appreciate how this book shows us the gritty side of the circus, how a certain attitude draws a certain crowd, and how the "freaks" are very much people who love, hurt, cry, laugh, and best of all--jest. The saving grace for me in this novel was the banter between the characters. The puns!! LOL Even when I grew angry with how incredibly dumb and weak they all were, I kept reading just to see what Limber Jack or Mervin would say next.
I must admit, the characters have really grown on me, and I think that's why this story was so hard for me to read. I like them, I want them to make it and be happy, and seeing them just cow-tow to this horrid new ringmaster ruined it for me. I wanted them to buck up.
As for the story itself, we once again follow the circus from town to town, only this time it's with a new boss, a not-so-friendly one who blackmails, kidnaps, steals, hurts, and manipulates. How does he know as much as he does? I don't know. That's another slightly unbelievably thing. Bad things happen in this book and there is no solid ending this time. We won't know what happens until book three. Do the "freaks" get away? Do the "things" get saved? I think I may sense a romance finally for the bearded lady too. We'll see.