Book #1 of the Donovan Circus Series
by Liz Long
Publisher: Self-Published (April 2012)
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy
Source: Review Request by Author
Format: Paperback (293 pages)
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)
Even in a world of freaks, being a Firestarter is considered a dangerous Gift.
Lucy was born with the ability to create and control fire. She longs to leave the human world for one filled with Earthshakers, Transporters, and Chameleons, to name a few. When she rejoins the circus, it’s everything she hoped it could be—new friends, a potential love interest or two, and a place where she can be herself.
When troupe members begin turning up dead, however, Lucy is suspected of foul play. She must not only prove her innocence but also realize the full extent of her power. To find the real murderer, she must uncover the truth behind her father’s fiery legacy while figuring out whom to trust within her new circle. Little does she know the history of the Donovan Circus and its enemies might actually destroy the entire gifted world.~ Goodreads
At a Glance
I had so much fun reading this book. It got better and better with each page. Gifted has an original concept that makes you sit up and take notice.
Here’s the Story…
Lucy is finally home. Going back to the circus after the death of both her parents seems like the perfect idea. It’s a place where she can be herself once again. No more hiding her fiery gift. She will finally fit in among people like her, the gifted. Just as her life starts to fall into place–new friends and new love–everything falls apart. Gifted circus members start showing up dead–burnt to a crisp–and the troupe can’t help but point fingers at the new firestarter, Lucy. Lucy has no choice but to find the murderer and clear her name. And in her pursuit of the culprit, she uncovers some hard truths about her family and the circus she has come to love.
A Hidden Gem…
I love finding gems like this book among self-published authors. Gifted had a unique premise and amazing characters. The idea of people with gifts joining the circus intrigued me. Why not use your ability out in the open when everyone will just assume it’s a carnival trick. Brilliant! And the array of abilities were fascinating to discover. We meet firestarters, empaths, earthshakers, runners, shapeshifters, and the list goes on.
I Love Lucy…
Lucy is kind of like your average girl…who can control fire. She has spent her life holding back her emotions in fear of bursting into flame from too much anger or happiness. Even entering the circus, she holds back, never meeting her full potential. She doesn’t want to hurt someone by accident. Watching her emotions start to spiral out of control was actually exciting. The men of her life constantly keep her on her toes. The bad people out to get her never leave her a moment of peace. And the secrets revealed only intensify everything she has been feeling.
Lucy is a sweet girl with a feisty side. She is also naive and defensive, which made her a more realistic character. All she wants is a “family” she can be herself with, but with the murders hanging over her head, and most people blaming her, Lucy has not found the acceptance she was hoping for. But at least her close group of friends are always there for her.
A Cute Jerk…
Though I loved Keegan–he really is the sweetest guy ever–watching Gabriel and Lucy banter back and forth was the best part of this story. Gabriel is sexy and frustrating. He’s a jerk most of the time, but the way he says things is both hilarious and cute. Lucy does a good job of sticking up for herself, but Gabriel really knows how to rattle her. I never knew what to make of Gabriel. You want to trust him but his mysterious side is just too…well, mysterious. I spent most my time wanting to punch him in the face for treating Lucy the way he did, but it gave a great dramatic/comical flare to the story.
I loved the array of characters we got to meet. The upbeat best friend, the gay couple, the sweet boy Lucy should probably end up with, and the jokester who doesn’t take anything seriously. I was smiling every time they showed up on scene.
The twists and turns were well done. We are often thrown red herrings that make us think one thing but the truth is a whole lot worse…or better. Long knows how to keep a reader on her toes. Lies and deceit run heavy within the circus and you can’t help but feel bad for Lucy when the world she thought she knew starts to crumble.
The pacing was well done. I rarely felt bored. I hated putting the book down when I needed to sleep (stupid sleep, always getting in the way of my reading). The action was good, especially the parts with fire. Long gives just enough description to draw a vivid picture of each scene without overdoing it. I actually felt refreshed after reading this book.
Sometimes the conversations were too long and explained too many things in one shot. They felt a bit forced and I got a little bored (this was the only time I got bored).
The beginning was a little slow. It didn’t represent how great the rest of the book was.
Serious moments often got brushed off with humor. I love humor, even in scary/sad moments. But sometimes certain events need to retain their seriousness to make an impact or just to make it more realistic.
There is some sexual tension, kissing, and unwanted sexual advances, but overall it’s a YA-ish clean book. If it wasn’t for the cursing and violence, I would have labeled Gifted YA. Also, all the characters are in their 20’s, though they act pretty young.
I enjoyed the love triangle between Lucy, Gabriel, and Keegan. Keegan is so sweet and reliable, while Gabriel is a total jackass, but in an adorable way. He has passion that Keegan lacks, but that might be a good thing, since Gabriel is also dangerous and unpredictable. I don’t know how Lucy is going to choose between the two because together, they make the perfect man.
Though Long left the love triangle open-ended at the end (grrr, why Long, why?) I was pretty much satisfied from beginning to end. Anyone looking for something new in the fantasy/paranormal department, Gifted is the book for you. The characters were likable and the plot was interesting. A highly recommended read.
“It’s too bad you’re so hot,” I mumbled. I kept my eyes on the ground to prevent tripping up again. Or maybe it was to keep from looking in his eyes and ripping his shirt off, I couldn’t be sure.
“Why is that?” Drunk or not, his smug expression was easy for me to read. The smile didn’t reach his eyes, but I could hear it in his pleased tone.
“Cause you’re a total jackass.”
“Well, I think that’s a little rude.”
“Doesn’t make it untrue.”