The Ladies of the Secret Circus

Hachette Audio. Mar. 2021. 16:31 hrs. ISBN 9781549110245. $40. F
Sayers’s (A Witch in Time) sophomore novel transports listeners between 1920s Paris and the modern-day United States, to tell the story of a cursed family and the mysterious circus that determines the course of their lives. Lara Barnes’s life unravels when her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day; it soon becomes clear that his disappearance is part of a troubling pattern that may be connected to Lara’s family. Lara’s search for answers takes her on a frightening and exhilarating journey to Paris, where she discovers her great-grandmother’s journals and unearths secrets about a curse that has plagued her family for generations. Narrator Emily Lawrence taps into the novel’s romantic atmosphere and infuses Sayers’s lush language with an expressive dreaminess. She effectively conveys the circus’s unsettling atmosphere and balances Lara’s delight at the circus’s wonders with her increasing misgivings about her family’s disturbing past. Lawrence’s accents are somewhat overdone and inconsistent, which weakens an otherwise strong production.
VERDICT Listeners, especially if they’re fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, will be enchanted by this satisfying story of twisted love, exquisite illusions, and the painful weight of unspoken secrets.
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