As Noor pulled the curtain back and stepped up to the mirror to view herself, she gasped.
She looked as if she’d been dipped in liquid gold. The fabric moulded to her like a second skin. Each time she twisted and turned the light reflected off her body like the ocean at sunset. The attendant handed her gold cuffs to slip onto her ankles. She dragged a chair to face the mirror and sat down to watch her sister’s reaction. Kahina’s eyes widened as she gave her body a once-over.
Trapeze-artist twins Kahina and Noor are one of a kind. Kidnapped from their home in India, they were sold to a travelling circus in Europe at four years old. Now it’s the Roaring Twenties, the girls are twenty-one, and they want to escape their circus trailer and abusive ringmaster and make their way to India to find their birth parents.
The circus world is all they know: the daily drills in technique; the fittings for sumptuous costumes that will make their dark complexions shine and keep customers rolling up to buy tickets; the blue-and-white striped tent with its coloured lights and the smell of popped kernels and melted caramel wafting through the stands; and their renowned double act: two young women leaping, tumbling and soaring above the audience.
Yet beyond its glamour, Garret’s circus is rife with cruelty. You’re only as good as your last trapeze act, and secrets behind the curtain are sinister enough to kill.
When Kahina is forced to train a handsome new recruit in the art of trapeze work, his disdain for rules pushes her out of her comfort zone and ignites a sequence of events that threaten to force the sisters apart.
Laila Manack’s debut novel is a vivid tale of the power of sisterhood and womanhood, trust and self-worth, flying and falling and getting up again, no matter what.