The Ladies of the Secret Circus

Written by Constance Sayers
Review by Holly Faur

After Lara Barnes’s fiancé disappears just before the wedding, Lara refuses to believe the worst. But her mother, Audrey, isn’t so sure, and recounts a family curse that she believes may be responsible. As clues slowly emerge, the search leads Lara into the mysterious world of Le Cirque Secret, where her great-grandmother, Cecile, was said to have performed. Armed with Cecile’s journals, a rare painting of the circus, and a touch of magic herself, Lara’s quest for answers directs her to Paris, where Le Cirque Secret is said to have vanished. There, she encounters a hidden world of dark magic, visible only to those who’ve been given a coveted ticket, as she unravels the haunting and desperate truth behind the journals—and makes a startling discovery of her own.

Equal parts reality and fantasy, The Ladies of the Secret Circus eerily twists modern-day with devils and daemons, detective work with time-shifting carousels, and 1920s Parisian cafés with Ouija boards—all with a circus clown and a monkey for a bit of wry humor. The story traces Lara, with brief glimpses into the past via Cecile’s journals, which personally made it feel more like a modern read, as there wasn’t much in the way of historical detail to feel and explore. Lara takes a little while to get going in the right direction, as does learning all the characters’ names, but once she makes it to Paris the story picks up significantly and concludes with a grand finale that will make your spine tingle. Perfect for fans of Supernatural and Good Omens.