Book Review

CIRCUS OF WONDERS by Elizabeth Macneal

Rating: 4 / 5

I received CIRCUS OF WONDERS by Elizabeth Macneal in my Once Upon a Book Club. I did not know much about this one, but it wound up the perfect pick for one of my book prompts!

CIRCUS OF WONDERS is set in 1866. Nell was born with birthmarks across her skin, marks which make her an outcast with limited prospects for her future. When Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in town, Nell’s father sees an opportunity. He sells his daughter to Jupiter as a leopard girl to perform among the others who are all different from what society would deem ‘normal’.

Nell is put to work performing in a starring role, gaining fame and attention. She is making money and she has found a place for herself. She feels at home among the people of the circus, a found family that accepts her and her differences. Having Jupiter buy her and own her isn’t what she would have chosen, but she begins to think that this might have been the best thing for her.

This book takes an interesting look at a woman’s ability to own their own body in this time period. Nell has always been an outcast with very few options in a world where a woman’s main objective in life is to find a husband to take care of them. Her only career option is to work in the fields. Oddly, being sold into a life of slavery with the circus also gives her some agency in her own life.

This is a book I likely would not have picked up on my own, so I really am glad to have received this in one of my Once Upon A Book Club boxes. If you’re interested in trying out this subscription, remember that DGREADS10 will give you 10% off your first order!

Reading Challenge:

#AroundTheYearIn52Books – book with a monopoly token on the cover

Purchase Link:


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