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"Brooke Stevens's first novel is full of mysterious circuses, the grandest of which occupies a hollow mountain in the center of an island...His novel at times reads like a love letter to that most exotic of lives."
--William Ferguson, N.Y. Times Book Review


"Stevens' novel is like a mysterious, haunting dream, rich in allegory and deeply personal symbolism. The images of the circus and stage are so vivid that you get a real sense of their physical qualities as well as the magic and mystery deep within that make them work...I found that I was drawn to the characters and their story, even long after I had finished the novel."
--Chuck Groth, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch


"Suspense, novelty and exoticism blend to make Brooke Stevens' The Circus of the Earth and the Air a riveting tale...Stevens captures and traverses the porous border separating thrill from terror in a child's world. Here, that world is our world, as circuses are for children of all ages."
--Andy Soloman, The Chicago Tribune


"Stevens mixes fantasy and reality easily in a book that won't be easy to forget."
--Bob Trimble, Dallas Morning News


"Incredibly ambitious, especially for a first novel, Circus successfully juggles elements of action, adventure, mystery, poetry, metaphysics, psychology, and allegory. And-oh, yeah-it's a love story...The end result is a richly textured, dynamic novel that turns its own pages..."
--Dan Leone, The S.F Bay Guardian


"This amazing first effort by former circus employee Brooke Stevens provides a mesmerizing view of the circus life that will forever haunt readers whenever they view a circus advertisement."
--Joan Hinkemeyer, The Rocky Mountain News


"Stevens writes like nobody else in recent memory; John Gardner's The Sunlight Dialogues is the closest comparison I can make. Like Gardner, Stevens can make impossible scenes somehow plausible."
--Jeff Guinn, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram


"...unfolds in such a universe, where logic derives from intuition and nothing is what it seems...[Stevens'] ideas on the subject heighten the significance of Alex's experience, providing a context in which he can hunt for Iris both physically and spiritually, while at the same time coming to terms with himself."
--David Ulin, LA Times


"These opening pages, reminiscent of the harrowing Dutch movie "The Vanishing," maintain a careful balance between the mundane and the fantastic, disbelief and panic. There's an irresistible tension in the story of a man who literally loses his wife and has no idea how to find her."
--George Packer, Washington Post Book World



"...unreels like a dream of drowning, acid-etched on the brain. Stevens spins a fantastic, entrancing tale, an entertaining, insightful and sometimes moving allegory about creating, performing, love and loss. Spare, uncluttered prose propels the novel and strengthens its spell."
--Jan Cottingham, Arkansas D. Gazette


"...an hypnotic page turner that's sure to grip the reader."
--Michelle Howe, The Newark Star-Ledger


"The dreamlike aura of Stevens' first novel is the stuff of both bliss and nightmare, reminiscent of the fiction of Ray Bradbury, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Franz Kafka and, of course, the films of the late Federico Fellini."
--Nancy Pate, The Orlando Sentinel


"It's tough for a brief synopsis to capture the unique mix of realistic suspense and metaphysical adventure in Circus, but the narrative momentum is so strong that most readers will probably finish the book in a few sittings."
--Joseph Meyers, The Connecticut Post


"Stevens' book is well-imagined, well-peopled and well-plotted and it ascends to rarefied heights..."
--Dorothy Smiljanich, The Tampa Tribune


"The book climaxes as the last ten pages reveal the mystery, and the ending keeps the reader holding on until the final, shocking line."
--Kathy Kuhl, The Iowa Press-Citzen


"After reading a few pages of this first novel, you will be hooked. No, mesmerized. Fascinated by its ability to draw you in and to keep you reading, even when parts of it make you squirm with discomfort."
--Peggy Eastman, The Sunday Cape Cod Times


"[Stevens] keeps his balance-and sustains reader interest to the end...It's a daring, challenging book that wobbles on the wire some but reaches the end intact."
--Grant Burns, Flint, MI Journal

"Weird and elusive as a handful of smoke is this first novel by Brooke Stevens, a story set in a circus whose performers exist in the dreams of us all...Stevens is an elegant ringmaster. This first novel is rough around the edges, ragged because of an excess of energy and enthusiasm more than anything else--but it is inhabited by a cast of delightfully entertaining performers."
--Paul Pintarich, The Oregonian




Reviews of The Circus of the Earth and the Air
brooke stevens