My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was debating between a 4 or 5 star rating, but I just really loved the writing, so I went for the big star rating. This book covered a lot of things I like: historical fiction set in old time-y NYC (1895), beautiful prose, interesting characters, fantastic interwoven plot, and just great tone and pacing. It all came together so beautifully. But then there’s a surprise twist at the end, where a character is revealed to actually been a man (rather than a woman she was dressing up as), and from there things begin to unravel, but the inclusion of gay and transgender characters really says a lot about the writer and how she was so conscious of her characters and their complexities. It’s spectacular writing, every sense was detailed, down to the scent of the city. I was there and it was beautiful and smelly (much like today). I can’t get enough of this book.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
New York, 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soiler cleaning out the privies behind the tenement houses, finds an abandoned newborn baby in the muck. An orphan himself, Sylvan rescues the child, determined to find where she belongs.
Odile Church and her beautiful sister, Belle, were raised amid the applause and magical pageantry of The Church of Marvels, their mother’s spectacular Coney Island sideshow. But the Church has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in its ashes. Now Belle, the family’s star, has vanished into the bowels of Manhattan, leaving Odile alone and desperate to find her.
A young woman named Alphie awakens to find herself trapped across the river in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum—sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her husband’s vile, overbearing mother. On the ward she meets another young…
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