Oh, this book. I'm not sure what I think. I'm having a hard time figuring out if 3 stars is even what I want to rate it. I could go to 4 easily, and could just as easily go to 2. I don't like being this puzzled about the basic feelings a book incites in me, especially when that confusion doesn't come from too many feelings all competing, but because there's a lot of smaller positive emotions fighting with a pair of big-to-me negatives that are overshadowing them.
Let's start with the good. This is a well-written book, fast paced with great descriptions as needed and streamlined narrative where appropriate. The viewpoint character has a good, solid voice, a realistic and unique viewpoint in fantasy books and an identity unlike any other I've read. The circus setting is equal parts mystical and workmanlike. The home our hero runs away from is never utterly vilified. It's sometimes very clever, especially with use of a back and forth timeline. It's definitely an enjoyable book for the most part.
But the first negative? This isn't a whole story. I feel cheated, having finished this and finding it doesn't actually contain an ending. I understand now that there's a sequel. And I don't expect everything to be wrapped up in any given book, even if it's *not* first in a series. But nothing was wrapped up. It just sort of stops, in a deeply unsatisfying way.
And the second thing that bothered me? The death of Micah's partner from the trapeze act. The moment Micah told her the truth - that he was both male and female - I had the non-serious, idle thought "so, does she betray him or die?" And then it actually happened. I'm sure the author had very good reasons to kill her off that way, but the result was it felt like the book saying "Well, she's served her purpose. Time to kill her off." Other women in the book don't actually fare much better. It was deeply disappointing to me considering how wonderfully Micah was handled.
In all, it IS a well-written book, it REALLY is, and the main character is interesting and worth supporting. But I really wish I'd waited until book 2 was out. I suspect I'd have a much more glowing review if the book gave me some closure. As it is, I may actually break my usual stance of not reading book 2 if book 1 doesn't have a solid ending though. I really enjoyed it while reading.