By Ekta R. Garg
February 19, 2020
Genre: Middle grade fantasy
Release date: October 1, 2019
Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars
When a young magician realizes that his evil grandmother is targeting the circus he loves, he decides to fight back to keep his new home safe. The only problem is that his grandmother always manages to stay one step ahead of him and his magician friends. Author Cassie Beasley continues the story of Micah and his circus family in the slow-to-start but ultimately successful novel The Bootlace Magician.
Eleven-year-old Micah Tuttle has been living with the Lightbender at Circus Mirandus for months now, but he still feels out of place. The magicians and creatures in the circus couldn’t be kinder—everyone has gone out of their way to make him feel welcome—but Micah is having trouble understanding his magic. Sure, he can tie knots in any type of string, and these knots can hold memories. But how does that compare to the other magicians who can create fantastical illusions or breathe fire?
Sensing that Micah needs a job to keep him occupied, the Lightbender decides to give him the responsibility of the newest magical creature to join Circus Mirandus. Terpischore is a unicorn foal who has been left behind by her family. The magicians are worried about her, because as a general rule unicorns don’t abandon their own kind. For some reason, Terpischore wandered into Circus Mirandus. Now it’s Micah’s job to make sure she eats her meals and stays out of trouble.
Trouble, though, seems like it’s around the corner. Strange occurrences around the circus have everyone worried. Lightning strikes and mysterious attacks make everyone suspicious that an old enemy of the circus has returned. Victoria used to fly and perform amazing feats with birds, but her ambition got the better of her and Mr. Head, the manager of the circus, dismissed her. Now it seems like Victoria is back, and this time everyone is worried as much about Micah as anything else.
Micah wishes with every inch of himself that he weren’t related to Victoria, but he’s grateful that no one holds the family connection against him. As the weeks pass and the attacks become more severe, Micah realizes that some connections count more when they’re not tied by blood. He just wishes that the circus—and he—could be rid of Victoria once and for all.
Author Cassie Beasley takes her time to get the story moving in this second book in the Circus Mirandus duology. As a result, readers might feel like they’re treading water for a bit. The plot takes its time to move to the main point—the return of Victoria and her revenge on the circus—and Beasley tries to include several subplots that may, on occasion, compete for the readers’ affection.
The best elements of the first book are back, though, and target readers get to enjoy them in spades here. Micah’s friendship with best friend Jenny holds as strong as ever. All of the fun, quirky magicians of Circus Mirandus get more time in the spotlight. One of the core themes of the book—that family matters, whether it’s a family built by blood or choice—is as strong as ever.
Beasley doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities of current times, but she also offers readers the kind of hope that makes books in this genre sing. At one point, during an argument on how to handle Victoria, the Lightbender says to Micah, “Some fight the darkness head-on. … Others try to create so much light that it cannot take hold in the first place. We need both sorts of people in this world.”
Later in the book, the narration states, “Putting something beautiful and good into the world always mattered. Big or little, impressive or simple, magic was supposed to be about giving something of yourself to other people.”
Readers and parents looking for fun adventure books with age-appropriate content that also challenges its target audience will certainly enjoy this book. I recommend readers Bookmark The Bootlace Magician.