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review 2020-04-16 13:24
Circus of the Damned
Circus of the Damned - Cornelia Grey

by Cornelia Grey


This is a very atmospheric story about a genuine magician who gets through life pulling cons and doing what people assume is stage magic, but is helped along by the real thing. One day he gets in trouble with his dodgy doings and is being chased by an angry mob, and in his attempts to get away, joins the Circus of the Damned.


There is an unnecessary amount of gratuitous swearing, but also a lot of action and I was pulled into the story quickly. It took me until chapter three to decide that I really didn't like the main character, Gilbert. He's arrogant and doesn't think, which is not a good recipe for a magician. You would expect him to at least be savvy enough to know what it means when he's offered a place in the circus and warned that it's forever. The word 'damned' might have tipped him off. But he proceeds to try to leave with no thought of the warnings he was given.


The circus is pretty weird and Gilbert, being bi-sexual, takes an interest in the MC who he finds attractive. There is a selection of interesting characters, though none I could identify with personally. The use of pronouns isn't always correct and it can get confusing to tell who is who, but it is imaginative and Gilbert sort of reminds me of the Artful Dodger with his street life background. There are some very funny moments, though the dialogue was flat at times.


About halfway through it begins to read like a m/m Romance novel, which would be okay, but there is some gratuitous sex in graphic detail that I felt was completely unnecessary. It crosses the line into porn and I find that inappropriate in books that are not sold as Erotica. It's suddenly inappropriate for young readers when there could have been a large audience for the book in the 12-18 range. The main characters were also inconsistent in their strength and weaknesses.


Apart from the fact that Gilbert is an idiot (to be fair, he progresses) and the intrusive porn, it's a good story with an interesting premise,  is decently written, has some very imaginative performance scenes and has some poignant elements of love and sacrifice. The strong beginning was not really followed up by the last few chapters being as strong and the author doesn't seem to realize that smoke in a fire makes people choke and die, but overall it was an enjoyable story.

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review 2016-08-08 06:29
The Angel Blues (Cornelia Grey)
The Angel Blues - Cornelia Grey

3.5 stars

For a short story to make an impact, even if it only captured one moment of a lifetime, it had to make me feel something. Characters, or plot, or tone of the story. And Cornelia Grey, one of my favorite MM authors EVER, was able to bring that melancholy/nostalgic tone to this short, AGAIN.

The Angel Blues was previously released in Dreamspinner Press Anthology A Brush of Wings. I didn't have the anthology so when I saw this one being sold separately, I immediately went ahead and bought it.

I could feel Nathan's struggle with his "bad days" being a seasoned cop. I loved that these two shared love and appreciation for the blues. Cornelia's writing made me want to look for the songs myself and play it on a lonely/silent/moody night. I would love to read more about these two, knowing that despite Spencer's action (and what was his consequences??!), they would still be okay.

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review 2016-04-18 00:00
Circus of the Damned
Circus of the Damned - Cornelia Grey 2.5

I love everything about the circus: that it was damned, it freaks (the octopus, the clown, the dwarf, the strong woman, etc), the only performance we are able to read... I love Gilbert and his magic, Jesse and his ability with fire. When they have a battle against Reuben's men it was awesome. I fell in love a tiny bit with the idea of ringmaster Jesse, a beautiful guy with fire! I liked the devil Farfarello and the deal he has with Jesse and the members of the circus, it was a bit creepy and dark but overall the devil wasn't bad. I would have preferred more battles maybe, and more interaction with the members of the circus that weren't Constance and the octopus and Hugo... I had a hard time remembering who was this girl and that other one.

The book would have been a lot better if it wasn't for the "romance", which really isn't (reason why I can't shelf this in my mm romance shelf). Gilbert falls more or less in love with Jesse and they begin an affair. It was almost impossible NOT to like Jesse, with the ability he has and his looks (his personality, meh). Truth is, there is a love triangle in this story, which is something that I hate. Although it isn't really a triangle, since the balance is tipping in favor of the devil. You can't really compete against a 200-year-old story, which is what Jesse and the devil have. I can't understand why they aren't together, or why didn't Jesse chose the devil at the end. The devil still loves him, Jesse still loves him... they were in pain because they weren't together. Yes, Jesse starts to be Gilbert's lover and he cares for him, but not in the romantic way. Till the end, I don't feel like there is a closure between Jesse and the devil, and I hoped that Gilbert and Jesse remained friends only by the end, but then Gilbert has to go and be the hero. For a guy that never showed a love interest for him (and I am not talking about lust, which was fine. But actual care). MEH.

So I would recommend this for the action and the urban fantasy/steampunk side, but for the romance (which there isn't) I don't.
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review 2016-03-21 06:54
The Empty Hourglass (Cornelia Grey)
The Empty Hourglass - Cornelia Grey
2.5 stars

I have been a fan of Cornelia Grey's works for few years now, ever since I read her short story for the first time back in 2011. Over the years, I have loved all of her books and was overjoyed when she finally released her first novel back in 2014. This would be her second, clocks in around 69k, another entry in her Deal with a Devil series). It can be read as a stand-alone, though, because the only similarity coming from these series is the devil, Farfarello.

In The Empty Hourglass , Thomas is a toymaker who lost his hand after an accident destroyed his laboratory. He comes to the city of Montrale, where the reclusive Jethro Hastings lives. Jethro is said to be the best prosthetic inventor and Thomas wants to ask Jethro to make one for his hand....

Unfortunately, this will be my first experience where I completely underwhelmed with the story. In fact, I have to be honest and say that this is my least favorite of Grey's. I think my biggest problem with it was the fact that the story was written from Thomas' perspective, and for once, he wasn't the one making the deal with the devil. I didn't feel the urgency -- that intense situation of one facing the end of his days, of losing his soul to the devil. In that sense, I felt like nothing 'big' happened in the book and I kept waiting and waiting ... and waiting.

I also found Jethro to be rather defeatist as a character, and maybe I would've liked him better if he was given his own POV in the book so he could 'fight' for his case, so to speak . For example, the background of him making deal with Farfarello, the part with Stefan, that was rather wasted because it was only mentioned during the time of needs, not before.

I guess I couldn't agree more with Farfarello when he said this:

"You are screwing everything up! I swear, in centuries I have never had so much trouble. Time is running out! Why won't you two just do what you're supposed to?"

It was not a very good sign where I found secondary character, like Mina the ghost, and Dragana the blind inventor, to be more intriguing rather than Jethro as (supposedly) love interest of Thomas. Heck, I wouldn't exactly call him love interest too because if you're looking for romance, it was pretty lackluster.

So yes, this was a meh read for me and I couldn't fully recommend it if you're a newbie of Cornelia Grey's works. She has other things that are way better. One that I always happily recommend will be (currently out of print) Benjamin Pepperwhistle and the Fantabulous Circus of Wonders

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
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review 2015-11-05 00:00
Circus of the Damned
Circus of the Damned - Cornelia Grey

Spoiler free!

So do you ever get to the end of a book and want so badly to give it 5 stars and just can't??  Well...it's a damn shame.  I really enjoyed this one...to the point that I think I mentally wrote this review 5 times in my head while reading it.  Now granted the ratings and the review fluctuated throughout...but still.  

The premise, the freaks, the magic, the creepiness, the circus, the writing, our MC's...it's all so brilliantly done.

Now...if I could only...

*insert gif of Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society saying "rip, gentleman, rip"

I know...I know...if you've followed my updates I am clearly...

But damn.  The scene midway through this book for me was rushed and not in keeping with the rest of the book at all...who even were these two guys???  but I digress...

*reinsert gif of Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society saying "rip, gentleman, rip" 

And so while of late, I have harped upon the lengths of books pushing the 600 page mark as clearly needing an editor...this one could also have taken some advise.  IT NEEDED MORE!  At roughly 250 pages, this is one I would have easily wanted another 100 pages.  So what's missing??

  • Firstly...Character development of our freaks for one.  I would love more back story on these characters, especially our MC, Jesse.  
  • Secondly...Relationship building.  I felt I missed out on some key scenes between our two MCs and desperately want to search the cutting room floor for more.  This book lacked in sexual tension and buildup...which had this held out until later in the book...wow...I clearly think my kindle would have burst into flames from the heat on the screen, as it was already smoking hot.  *stares off in distance longingly*


Oh yeah...where was I???

Biggest surprise of the book for me...the Devil...

I see there is a shortie by Cornelia that includes our infamous devil...so this just got bumped up on the list. *rubs hands together*

Overall...this one is definitely worth the price of admission!

Release day BR with Momo, Marco and Marte

Oh and if ole Magic Marco can make these gifs appear that I can't seem to find, that would be oh so lovely.  ;)

And yes...ole Magic Marco came through.  

Status Updates:

1% done with Circus of the Damned: Please be good!

7% done with Circus of the Damned: So far so good. I think I'm gonna like this magician.

13% done with Circus of the Damned: He wasn’t sure what he expected from a circus, but it wasn’t this silent parade of ruined, faded wagons. He’d expected color, lights, music, and dancing performers. This was eerie.

19% done with Circus of the Damned: “From Hell, are you now?” Gilbert snorted. “So you’re telling me, what, that you’re the devil?”
“A devil. Hell is pretty big and with a thriving population, I should add,” the man specified.

21% done with Circus of the Damned: Quick little pinpricks began running up Gilbert’s leg, and he lowered his gaze to see that the silver spider from the silver cane knob was now crawling over him, sticking its metallic legs into the fabric of his clothes hard enough to bite into his flesh.

30% done with Circus of the Damned: Wow...that "clause" regarding the replacement of a circus member is quite the motivation.

34% done with Circus of the Damned: Maybe it wasn't shield at all, but a cage.

37% done with Circus of the Damned: “Trust me. Soon you’ll be grateful to be in a place where you don’t need to hide who you are. And at the end of the day, other freaks are the only ones who will ever look out for you. Don’t you forget that.”

40% done with Circus of the Damned: two centuries????

41% done with Circus of the Damned: “A silver dancing spider. The devil wants something that you want. You want something that belongs to the devil. You want what the devil owns, and he will come, soon, to try to take it away. The devil in love. And you— Are you willing to fight for what your own heart desires?”
This certainly complicates matters.

42% done with Circus of the Damned: “Beware the purple cloud,” she said. “It’s close. And it’s coming for you.”

44% done with Circus of the Damned: So yes...Clowns are creepy...but dolls and puppets are right up there. GAAWH!

55% done with Circus of the Damned: So I am approaching 57% and really feel nothing for these two. Kinda sad about that. I expected some sexual tension or something...I sure hope I get excited over these two. ;/

60% done with Circus of the Damned: Is this not a magician and a flame thrower??? WTF? This could have been any two random guys, as hot as that scene (was not). *pouts*

75% done with Circus of the Damned: So torn over how I am feeling about these two...hmmmm

76% done with Circus of the Damned: Then, the birds came.

83% done with Circus of the Damned: Holy Hell...can we just forget that the scene at 58% even happened...this was HAWT!!!

93% done with Circus of the Damned: The desperate screams of Reuben’s men were quickly cut off as the roaches devoured the flesh off their bodies.

Damn! I want so badly to give this 5 stars but that damn stumbling block at 58% will prevent it. :(
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