The First Bright Thing

Tor. Jun. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781250805546. $27.99. FANTASY
DEBUTThe Circus of the Fantasticals always arrives at the right place at the right time, for those in the circus are Sparks, people with extraordinary powers. The Ringmaster, “Rin,” can jump to different moments in time, and she, her trapeze artist wife Odette, and others have created the circus as a home and haven for Sparks who are persecuted and despised for their differences. The future looks grim, despite the moments in time that Rin, Odette, and their financier (and future seer) Mauve try to change. Rin’s past also casts a long shadow, one of black tents, danger, and the whispers of a man whom Rin thought she had escaped. The Circus King also follows them, and his power can net anything he wants—and he wants Rin. Dawson’s debut is haunting, employing themes of gaslighting, trauma, and war, which are woven through dual points of view and multiple timelines. Judaism plays a role as well, both in the faith of the characters and through parallels of persecution.
VERDICT Dawson mashes up history, fantasy, and the magic of the circus in an emotionally immersive, character-driven story.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing