The Church of Marvels

From page one I loved this book. It’s beautifully written, captivating and wry and swept me away in an incredible journey through the world’s greatest city. Set in Manhattan and Brooklyn of the 1800s, Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry is a sweeping and marvellous debut novel.

The lives of four characters become irrevocably entwined and altered in this novel. In sparkling and beautiful prose, the plot races from the side shows of Coney Island to the gritty, lower East side of Manhattan, to the forboding asylum on Roosevelt Island.

Odile is a circus performer who lost her mother in the blaze that brought their circus to the ground, and now her talented sister Belle has disappeared in the thick crowd of New York City. While working to clean away filth in his job as a night-soiler, Sylvan finds an abandoned new born, and rather than leave her in an orphanage, adopts her. Alphie, a fallen woman, has now fallen in love. But her overbearing mother-in-law has had her committed to an asylum, where she plots her escape with the help of a mute in-mate.

With the drama and glitter of a circus, this novel is beautifully written with great description and harrowing plot. The dizzying spectacle of the circus meets an element of mystery and mild horror. The streets of 1800s New York are dark and dangerous but Leslie Parry weaves an incredible and breathtaking novel.

Spectacular, lucid, full of imagery – I loved this book. It was a beautiful glimpse into a meticulously researched world of history, circus folk, desperate workers, rising stars and orphans. It has elements of Charles Dickens in its examination of the society and cities in the end of the 19th Century. Church of Marvels is a book to read and love as soon as it is released in May.

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Church of Marvels will be available in-store and online, May 5th 2015. Order now.

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