Title: Calico Thunder Rides Again
Author: T.A. Hernandez
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Number of Pages: 200
Three years ago, the Ban changed everything, outlawing certain forms of magic and bringing about the rise of powerful crime syndicates. Now, speakeasies in every city sell illegal charms and jinxes, and bootleggers traffic restricted potion ingredients across the country. But even in this changing world, the magic of the circus still acts as a wondrous escape and provides entertainment for all.
Jake Strickland owns one such circus, inherited after an accident ended his career as a rodeo dragon rider. He also inherited the circus’ financial troubles, but since the show became his, he’s slowly managed to turn it into a profitable business once more. Or at least, that’s what he thought.
When a dangerous mobster comes to collect an old debt, Jake resorts to desperate measures to get the money before a strict deadline. With lives and livelihoods at stake, he battles the clock, his responsibilities to the circus, and a longstanding personal grudge that has festered for years. Can he pay back the mob before it’s too late?
Calico Thunder Rides Again is a fairly dark story full of magical creatures, organized crime, and circus life. Jake Strickland thought he had dealt with all of the financial problems that his father had left him when he inherited the circus. Unfortunately, one day a group of very dangerous mobsters show up, demanding a quick payment of an impossibly large debt that Jake’s father left unpaid. What follows is a whirlwind of events while Jake desperately tries to scrape the money together to keep himself, his friends, and his circus alive.
My favourite thing about this book was the look into circus life. Even though the circus was the backdrop for a darker, I loved all of the glimpses into circus life. The performances sounded magical, and I loved that Jake was still enthralled with the show after all of the years and struggles he went through. I also liked reading about the routine of the circus while it was on the road and the camaraderie among the performers. I also want to mention that I loved the glossary of circus terms at the beginning of the book, and I wish more books would feature glossaries at the beginning.
I also liked the characters in this book. Jake Strickland seemed like a great person, who genuinely cared about the circus and the performers, even though he had plenty of reasons to dislike the circus. I felt bad for Jake when he realized just how big of a mess his father had left him to clean up, and I was rooting for him the entire time to find a solution to his problem. I loved Grace and her performance with the magical creatures. She seemed like a badass, and I have a lot of admiration for anyone who can tame a dragon and a pair of griffins. I also liked Bruno, and I wish we could have learned a bit more about him.
My biggest complaint about the book is that it felt like something was missing. At 200 pages, Calico Thunder Rides Again is fairly short, and I wish it would have been a bit longer because there were so many things I wanted to know more about. For example, this book takes place in a world where there is a ban on a lot of magical things, and I would love to know more about why the ban is in place. I also want to know more about the circus, the performers, the different creatures, and about Calico Thunder herself.
Another thing that I want to mention is that this book is fairly dark. If you were to judge this book by its cover, you’d think it was a magical story with a dragon and the circus, but there is a lot more to the story than that. This book offers a lot of glimpses into the circus, but the main storyline is Jake trying to take care of the massive debt while dangerous people are after him. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s worth mentioning, so no one is surprised when they pick up this book.
Finally, I want to talk about Calico Thunder. Calico Thunder is a dragon who has been with the circus for a long time. I thought Calico Thunder was a majestic creature, and I loved all of the moments that featured her. I thought that the author did a great job writing about her and the magical creatures in general, and I liked none of them were over the top. Calico Thunder’s mannerisms reminded me of a cat, and I love any cat-like creature.
Overall, Calico Thunder Rides Again was an enjoyable read. It took me a while to get into, but it was difficult to put down once I got into it. I liked the magic, the characters, and I enjoyed reading about circus life.
Trigger/Content Warnings: Death of a parent (mentioned), animal mistreatment, & violence (including gun violence).
Rating: 3.5 Stars!
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