ARC Review: The Circus

the-circusTitle: The Circus
Author: Olivia Levez
Pages: 288
Published by: Rock the Boat
Release date: 4th May 2017
Why would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?

Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.

Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .

So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository | Waterstones 


Firstly, thank you to Rock the Boat for sending me a proof of The Circus to review!


I absolutely adored Olivia Levez’s first novel, ‘The Island,’ so when I found out about ‘The Circus,’ I knew I had to read it. When a copy came through the post, I dropped everything to start reading immediately, and finished it within a day. And I was definitely not disappointed!

Willow, the main character, is spoilt and naive when she runs away from home to try and find her mum and join the circus. On the run and determined not to be caught, she soon realises how difficult making it on her own will be. She learns the how harsh life on the streets is, and she learns the importance of friendship that’ll last even when you have nothing. She undergoes a lot of character development in the book, which is something that I love to see.

Suze was my favourite character. She is fun and quirky and a talented performer, and though she added a lot of lightheartedness through her character, her story also broke my heart at places. She is the opposite of Willow, and the pair form a friendship that I loved. She helps Willow get back on her feet after she becomes homeless, and she pushes her to achieve her goals.

One of the things that I was most looking forward to in The Circus was Olivia Levez’s unique writing style. It was one of the things that really stuck out to me when I read The Island, and was just as wonderful in this book. The writing immerses you, and the story is entirely gripping — I found myself staying up until the early hours of the morning reading because I just did not want to put this book down. I loved the exploration into performing and the setting of a circus, too. It was so interesting and I thought that it added a sense of adventure and a touch of magic to the story.

The Circus is a wonderful, adventurous book that somehow manages to be heartbreaking and heartwarming, all at once.

Rating: ★★★★★

Review: The Island

The IslandTitle: The Island
Author: Olivia Levez
Pages: 321
Published by: Rock the Boat
Release Date: 3rd March 2016
Frances is alone on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. She has to find water and food. She has to survive. And when she is there she also thinks about the past. The things that she did before. The things that made her a monster. Nothing is easy. Survival is hard and so is being honest about the past. Frances is a survivor however, and with the help of the only other crash survivor, she sees that the future is worth fighting for.

Purchase from: Amazon | Book Depository 


Firstly, HUGE thank you to Cailin at Rock the Boat for sending me a copy of this book to review!


I’ve struggled over the past week to formulate my thoughts on this book coherently, which is usually a big give away that I loved it. And I did love it – The Island was perhaps my favourite book of this year so far. It was a book packed with mystery and emotion (ALL the feels).

Frances is left alone on an island after a terrible accident. And for a great deal of the book she is the only character focused on. Because of this, mixed with the isolated setting, I was worried that I might get bored with the story, or that it might become repetitive. This is certainly not the case. It never got boring, and kept my interest throughout – I actually found it very difficult to put down (if it weren’t for upcoming exams and revision etc, then I’m sure I would have read it in one sitting!). And we get to see more of Frances, her past, and how she got to be on the island with flashbacks, which were just as gripping and emotive as the chapters set in the present.

Frances’s voice is a unique one  – she was a whirlwind of a character who, despite her past actions, I couldn’t help but love and sympathise with. I began to understand her more in the flashback chapters – and even relate to her – and began to realise just how strong of a person she actually is. And, even though they weren’t central characters in the book, and aren’t focused on too heavily, I was blown away by how spectacular the characterization of Frances’s family – her brother and mum – was. Olivia Levez did a spectacular job of creating and presenting such real, three-dimensional characters. 

The character development in this book is out of this world. Frances grows so much — at the beginning of the book she appears to be a cold, distant character, and her sometimes harsh attitude made her mysterious and interesting. I couldn’t help but be drawn into her story, which was described in a way that was gritty and honest, and made us empathise with Frances more, and understand her anger and sadness. I loved seeing how she gradually begins to change, and becomes willing to become a better person, and face and deal her problems head on.

Yet another thing to make The Island a unique story that stands out is the way that it is written. I loved the way that Olivia Levez writes. She perfectly conveys Frances’ thoughts, and describes things in such a simple yet vivid and striking way – it’s truly spectacular, and I haven’t read anything quite like this before.

Also, just incase these things aren’t enough: there is a dog!


The Island was an absolutely sensational debut and I’m very excited to read more of this author’s writing! ★★★★★