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Pantomime: Micah Grey, Book 1 (Strange Chemistry) Paperback – February 5, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Micah Grey Series

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Paperback, February 5, 2013
$80.96 $11.81

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

At around page 90 in Lam’s impressive debut fantasy novel, there’s a reveal so stunning that it makes it difficult to discuss without spoilers. Still, difficult hardly means impossible, especially as Lam’s memorable characters and rich world building stand tall in their own rights. Using a flashback structure to show both why noble-born Iphigenia Laurus runs away and joins the circus and how she changes her identity to become trapeze-artist Micah Grey, Pantomime does feature standard YA elements such as parental estrangement and problematic romance—yet marvelously transfigures them. Even as Micah must constantly work to avoid discovery, “he” begins to wonder whether he might be a latter-day incarnation of a mythological being. However, when he eventually shares his secret with love interest and fellow aerialist Aenea, the scene’s emotional power doesn’t seem worthy of its complex and deeply felt buildup. That said, Lam has more in store for us, as a hair-raising climax follows that recalls a classic Lon Chaney flick in terms of the operatic satisfaction it delivers. Grades 9-12. --Peter Gutierrez


"Pantomime by Laura Lam took me to an exotic and detailed world, peopled by characters that I'd love to be friends with...and some I'd never want to cross paths with."
-Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer Trilogy

“Set in a vividly imagined world with wonderful steampunk touches, Pantomimeis a fable-like story as beautifully unique as its main character.”
Malinda Lo, author of Ash, Huntress, and Adaptation

“Micah is the most wonderful, complex, brave and contemporary teenage hero I’ve read, facing issues of identity and responsibility that will resound with any reader who has felt like an outsider. Pantomime is loving in its detail but hints at so much scope to come, it feels like the set up for an epic sequel. I raced through this book, desperate to know what happens next. ‘Look out behind you’ Robin Hobb…”
- Bryony Pearce, author of Angel’s Fury and winner of the 2012 Leeds Book Award

“Welcome to a world of shills and showmen, fading tech and circus freaks, where nothing and no-one is what it appears. An absorbing, accomplished debut.”
- Elspeth Cooper, author of the Wild Hunt series

“Who hasn’t dreamed off running off and joining the circus? Laura Lam’s Micah does just that, discovering a world of clowns and acrobats, con men and tricksters, corruption and incompetent doctors, and maybe more about himself. I look forward to more from this author.”
- Brian Katcher, author of Almost Perfect and winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award

“In PANTOMIME, Laura Lam has created a world which will take your breath away, and characters you will never want to leave. Enchanting.”
 - Lou Morgan, author of Blood and Feathers

“A lyrical, stunningly written debut novel, which set my heart racing with every lift of the trapeze. In Micah we have one of the most original – and likeable – protagonists I’ve read in a long time. An author to watch, without a doubt.”
Amy McCulloch, author of The Oathbreaker’s Shadow 

Nominated for the 2014 ALA Rainbow list.


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Product Details

  • Series: Strange Chemistry
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Strange Chemistry (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190884437X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908844378
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I am completely emotionally exhausted after this book. I was given this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pantomime by Laura Lam is about Micah Grey, a performer in a circus troupe and also Gene, the daughter of a wealthy noble. They both have secrets to hide, ones that put them in grave danger. I don't want to give away big secrets in the novel, so that's where I'll have to stop. It's too bad because I'd love to explain why I am so drained and what an experience this book was. I will say this-- this is the most painfully honest depiction of a coming of age story that I have seen in a long time.

This is a gorgeously told story, and we get intimate details of living in a circus troupe. I felt like I was there. Gene and Micah are likeable characters, and the supporting characters are very well done also. SPOILER ALERT BUT ALSO A WARNING: I recently had a bad experience with another reviewer who said that every book should state clearly in the synopsis that there are gay characters so that readers could avoid them, so I just want to mention that if you have big issues with depictions of homosexuality or intersex characters, you must look elsewhere. It's too bad, because I think this book rises above those simple labels.

Overall, I felt this novel was thought provoking, intricately described, with fascinating characters and an intriguing protagonist. I'll be definitely picking up the next installment.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forget all you think you know about the circus.

Pantomime refers to a "play" which takes place within a performance of a remarkably ordinary (but not really so ordinary) travelling circus. This circus tours in a strange, alien land called Ellada. Ellada, which has colonized or conquered some of the outer lands, has an ancient history, involving Chimaera, and alien Alder.

Iphigenia Laurus comes from a fairly noble mercantile family. At 16 years of age, she has a secret, known initially only to her parents and her brother. But some secrets mask other secrets. Who is she really, and what is she meant to be?

Into the circus comes Micah Grey, a teen-aged runaway harboring a secret that may make people shun Micah, or worse. While helping to feed the animals and do other chores, Micah also trains with Arik and Aenea to be an aeralist. Micah befriends Drystan the clown while trying to survive the initial days of not-so-kindly hazing by the troupe. And always, there is Micah's fear of the discovery of the secret that could change everything. The Pantomime provides the final key that once again alters Micah's life.

One of the strengths of this story is its depiction of the behind-the-scenes lives and interactions in a circus troupe. Iphigenia and Micah are characters to whom readers can relate, in all their anguish, fear, hopes and needs. A circus, consisting of those who live in some part outside society, should be the safest place to be accepted. But everyone, no matter who they are or from whence they come, has needs, fears, hopes, and secrets.

Where will Iphigenia and Mhcah find their safe haven? Will either be able to find contentment in who and what they are?

One little reservation (which does not really spoil the magic of the story) is that its ending seems so much to beg for a sequel. The conclusion feels too unfinished.

Highly recommended, and not just for fans of science fiction.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Even though my love for Strange Chemistry is unending, I somehow missed this 2013 release until I saw it's sequel, Shadowplay, up on Netgalley.

Laura Lam's Pantomime is a very odd story about life in the circus. Some people might consider this next bit a spoiler so I am going to go ahead and tag it.


******************************* Micah and Gene are the same person. Gene, or Iphigenia as she was christened, was born with both male and female parts. She runs aways to the circus so she can live life as a male and renames herself Micah. *******************************


While we have the stories of Micah and Gene told in alternating chapters, Gene's story is in the past and Micah's story is in the current. The stories continue on until they finally meet and we learn the connection between Gene and Micah. It wasn't hard to see it coming, but it was an interesting twist. I just felt like not much else happened in this book.

While the writing was beautiful and descriptive, it was a little too overly long and flowery. The back stories are filled in and the two timelines finally meet, and just when the book seems to be picking up, it ends. I don't think I will be continuing on to Shadowplay anytime soon, but if you are looking for a historical read with social commentary and a hint of paranormal, this might be the book for you.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is so much about this book that makes it absolutely amazing. First off, it is very well written. I love the way the two parallel stories of Spring and Summer interact, revealing things in such an interesting way. There were many things references in Summer that we only learned the truth about later in the book during a Spring chapter.

I love books that delve into multiple genres. This book sits nicely between fantasy and sci-fi. The technological remnants of the past, Vestige, play a nice part in the mystery. There are so many cool details of the world that make it unique and not just another fantasy or another steampunk. Is this a fantasy world or the far future? Aliens?

The reveals are done expertly in this book. I loved the mystery. Even after finishing, I still have so many questions!

The details of the protagonist(s) thoughts really fledged out the characters. I loved the perspective.

Not only the main characters were detailed. I loved learning about all of the circus folk. There's so much depth and diversity in this novel.

Gender plays a big role in this novel and to stay away from spoilers, I loved the questions and conversations this novel brings foreword.

There are snippets at the beginning of chapters that I found really interesting. It was cool to see writing from this fantasy world and I loved how they were relevant to each chapter.

I absolutely loved this book. And I am starting its sequel right now! I give it a very worthy 5/5 and highly recommend it.
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