Smiler’s Fair by Rebecca Levene has been on my tbr since 2016, when I picked it up for 20p from a charity shop. And now I’m mad at myself because this book was fantastic! And somehow less than 1000 people have marked this as read on Goodreads? Ridiculous!!
This is a multi-POV fantasy book set in a world where a King had his son killed after a prophecy that he would overwhelm him. But his Queen saved their son’s life by sacrificing hers and one day he will be back to claim his birth right.
We have LGBTQ+ rep from some of our main characters, magic, death, found family, and more! Our POVs are all so different too, a cut throat, a male prostitute, a goat herder, a noble’s daughter, and somehow they’re all going to be connected to this travelling fair. When we start out these characters seem barely connected, and that’s partly what kept me reading! I loved seeing how Levene brought all of these people together.
There is a magic system in this book, and I really enjoyed learning more about it as the story developed. I’m hoping that we’ll get a lot more of that in the next book(s). And I also adored the character development through this novel. Some of our characters learn more about themselves and become stronger, some change their directions, and some become murderers. I love that not everyone is on the “good guy” trajectory.
I also really loved the worldbuilding throughout this one. We have really interesting concepts of the nobles living on constantly moving houses/castles, which are called ships even though they’re on land (and the nobles are then called shipborn). We have fascinating creatures that I’m super excited to learn more about. We have the cultures of the tribes and how they are so different to the nobles. Levene has created such an in depth world!
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Atmosphere: 8, Writing: 7, Plot: 7, Intrigue: 8, Logic: 7, Enjoyment: 8, which gives a score of 7.43 and a 4* rating.
Highlight here for trigger warnings: rape, child abuse, child death, torture, death, murder.
I am 100% going to be picking up book 2 (and I’ve already bought a signed limited edition of book 3, don’t judge me) and I really do recommend picking up this adult fantasy if it sounds up your street because it’s done so well and I really want more people to pick up this series! Let me know if you’ll consider reading these!