The Circus rose

Betsy Cornwell

Book - 2020

"A retelling of Snow White and Rose Red in which teenage twins Ivory and Rosie battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family." --

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Location Call Number   Status
Young Adult Area YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Cornwell Betsy Checked In
Fantasy fiction
Lesbian fiction
New York : Clarion Books [2020]
Main Author
Betsy Cornwell (author)
Physical Description
271 pages ; 22 cm
Ages 12 and up.
Grades 7-9.
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Though twins, Rosie and Ivory have different fathers, and they couldn't be more different themselves. They've grown up together under the tents of their bearded lady and ringmistress mother's traveling circus, and while Rosie is a natural performer who becomes easily overwhelmed outside of the spotlight, Ivory is an engineer who is at home behind the scenes. As Rosie fixates on Bear, a bear who became devoted to her after joining the circus several years ago, Ivory falls deeply for genderqueer Tam, who is the show's Fey magician. But though the circus has always been their haven, the outside world is not so kind; a group of religious zealots have begun targeting the circus with devastating results, and Ivory, spurred by guilt, will have to take action. Cornwell (The Forest Queen, 2018) vividly reimagines the "Snow White and Rose Red" fairy tale through the distinct voices of two sisters. A graceful exploration of the families we're born with and the ones we make.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In chapters that alternate between prose and poetry, Cornwell (The Forest Queen) retells "Snow White and Rose Red," placing the classic fairy tale against a lushly imagined circus backdrop. Rosie and Ivory, 17-year-old twins named for their hair color and born of different fathers, have spent their lives touring with the Circus Rose, which their bearded-lady mother founded. When the girls and circus return to their birthplace, Port's End, they discover that a new strain of religious extremism is infecting the city and gaining power over the populace. After a blaze destroys the circus, Ivory, who prefers the shadows to the stage, must take a leadership role and work to recover her vanished family. A range of relationships appears throughout: the girls' parents form a polyamorous interracial triad, Ivory becomes involved with a nonbinary Fey character, and Rosie, who is queer, enters a romance with an enigmatic bear. Though the plot meanders, the story tackles crucial themes--including the importance of found family and the dangers of religious fundamentalism--while navigating complex familial relationships and delivering a rich atmosphere. Ages 12--up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A queer reimagining of "Snow-White and Rose-Red." Dark-skinned Ivory and pale-skinned Rosie (each named for her hair color) are 17-year-old twin daughters of the Circus Rose's ringmistress. When the circus returns to their birthplace, Port's End, Rosie's and Ivory's growth unfolds against a volatile backdrop that echoes contemporary politics: Recent regime and policy shifts result in aggressive behavior by the Brethren, whose church formerly occupied a position of political power. After tragedy strikes the circus, Ivory must shoulder ringmistress duties even as she attempts to discover who--or what--is behind the devastation. The present-tense, first-person narrative alternates between Rosie's dreamy verse and Ivory's looping prose as the sisters navigate new romances, professional challenges, and oppressive religious fanaticism on tour. Rosie is attracted to women but prefers the mysterious Bear above all while Ivory's understanding of her own sexuality expands when she meets Tam, a black-haired, olive-skinned Fey magician who is "neither male nor female, like all Fey." Tam's pronouns, fe/fer/fers, are seamlessly integrated into the text. The twins have different fathers: Ivory's is brown skinned while Rosie's father is pale. The well-constructed fantasy world evokes elements of northern Europe and the United States during the Industrial Revolution, placing fluid Fey society and magic in an uneasy truce with established human monarchies and technologies. This creative exploration of chosen family, self-knowledge, love, and the tension between opposites is both timely and timeless. Dazzling. (Fantasy. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Rosie And now! Ladies, gentlemen, and Fey! Ivory Rosie and I are twins, but half sisters.       It happened just how you'd guess, of course. Mama loved two men at the same time, and she slept with them both in the same month.       When our fathers wanted her to choose between them, she left them both before she even knew that we were coming.       We might as well have the same father, though, for all we saw of either of them as children. Two absent fathers are the same as one.       But they're different men, and people do insist on being shocked.       Mismatched, half-sister twins are one thing. But our mother also being a bearded lady who had worked in what she lovingly called "the freak circuit" ever since she was a wispy-whiskered lass of fourteen years old?       We're circus through and through, Rosie and I. We never had a chance, not a chance, to be anything else.       Rosie's born to the performer's life, though, in a way that I never was. I think she always feels a little cold without the heat of a spotlight on her skin. When she walks the tightrope with her arms outstretched, that wide, easy smile on her face, it's as restorative for her as sunbathing. She floats between trapezes like a mermaid through a sunny sea, without a thought that the air would let her fall. And even when she's simply dancing . . . oh, she shines.       She shines, and the world basks in her light.       I stick to the shadows.       I switched teams, stepped out of the spotlight, and became a stagehand as soon as I realized I could. Mama, thank goodness, was kind about it. She killed off her double-act dreams without complaint, at least to me, and she asked the stage crew to show me the ropes, in both senses of the phrase.       So I got to be behind the spotlight, and Rosie in front.       Even then, of course, we shared it. Excerpted from The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.