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The Circus Rose

3.36  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  145 reviews
A queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family.

Twins Rosie and Ivory have grown up at their ringmaster mother’s knee, and after years on the road, they’re returning to Port End, the closest place to home they know. Yet something has changed in the bustling city: fundamental
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 16th 2020 by Clarion Books
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Average rating 3.36  · 
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Thank you, Clarion Books, for my ARC! I have been anticipating this for a long time!!!


For Your Consideration:

~ Queer Retelling of Snow White and Rose Red .
~ Twins are awesome.
~ A Circus family.
~ Giant bear and big top on cover.
~ Battle against religious extremists.

Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell is a queer young adult retelling of one of the most popular fairytales of modern times: the cautionary tale of Snow White. When it was described as ”perfect” in the description I had no idea it would not only meet my expectations but surpass them, too, bringing a renowned story bang up to date and endearing it to the minds of a whole new generation and important minority. I tend to pick YA reads carefully but I would say if you're a fairytale fiend this is a won ...more
Katerina  Kondrenko
4 out of 10

Okay, the language and atmosphere are WOW. But what I've just read?..
Jun 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
I was incredibly excited about The Circus Rose when it was announced, I very much enjoyed Betsy Cornwell’s debut when I read it the first time. And this book is set in the same world, where magic and technology coexist. Sadly, the things I liked from Mechanica and its sequel, Venturess, weren’t there in The Circus Rose.

Mechanica handled, in my opinion, very well emotional abuse and queerplatonic relationships. The characters were charming and the world-building, the conversations about technolog
Stay Fetters
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
"No memory is ever quite as you left it, no matter how carefully you lay it away."

Lately, I've been such a whore for circus books. If it has something to do with a circus or an act or even a family, I'm all in. And once I saw this book, I knew that I needed this in my life. ALA had my back with this book.

What draws you in first is the mesmerizing cover. The colors and the art is so spectacular that it's one to pine over. I'm in awe of this cover but I just wish the story was just as amazing as
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
My circus family. I missed them so much, and I mourned them.

And by heaven and earth, I was going to get them back.

On my blog.

Rep: lesbian mc, wlw li, bi mc, nonbinary li, bi side characters, side polyamory

Galley provided by publisher

Sometimes you open a book, and you only need a couple of pages to realise it’s not going to be for you. in this case, it was the third chapter that did it for me. Because this book alternates POV by alternative between poetry and prose. And it does not do it
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library
This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - Clarion Books in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Circus Rose was breathtakingly brilliant. A mix of Water For Elephants and The Prestige except for the fact that it involves a tightrope act instead of a grand finale involving an elephant. A tightrope act that cost her everything calling it a disaster. With politics taking over the major d
Jun 12, 2020 rated it liked it
Full Review at Novellives.Com

This shouldn't be starred.

Seeing the ratings plummet for Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell plummet when I went to update my progress on Goodreads, really makes my heart break. It shouldn't be the case. I truly feel it is more a case of bad marketing, than anything. This isn't a YA book. I don't blame the majority of YA readers to be bored by it or feel like nothing happened or that it was slow. For most adults and even teenagers that is fair. If you take out the scene i
Taylor Knight
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it
I read Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell years ago when it was first released and I loved it so much. I hadn't gotten around to picking up her other releases but when I seen the synopsis for The Circus Rose, I knew I had to read it and I was so excited.
I loved the writing style so much. It was beautiful and the alternating styles of the chapters, one character's perspective is written in poetry, was really interesting. I didn't love the poetry chapters but they were very unique.
The one thing that I f
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My first retelling of "Snow White and Rose Red" was Anna-Marie McLemore's Blanca & Roja, which is interesting because both of my experiences with this tale have been queer retellings. While I enjoyed McLemore's version, Cornwell's is superior in its plot and message.

I loved that Ivory spoke in prose and that poetry was the perfect vehicle for Rose's ethereal thoughts. I loved how unabashedly queer the book is. I loved that it introduced new gender-free third-person pronouns and it wasn't a big
I'm always down to read Circus-themed books which is why I added The Circus Rose a while ago. I dished out this afternoon finishing it in a single sitting (something that haven't happened since ages). The Circus Rose is the queer retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. Wrote in alternate poetry vs prose form, this is a story about coming of age, sisterhood, love, as well as political extremism. So it packed both the fun (the circus and the magic) as well as the heavy topics nicely into one.

I'm goi
Rebecca | Velvet Opus
Feb 14, 2021 marked it as to-read
Brb, immediately adding this queer retelling of "Snow White" with A CIRCUS and FOUND FAMILY to my TBR 🥺 ...more
Kal ★ Reader Voracious
Jan 03, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: retellings, lgbtqiap
Hi, yes. I am here for this queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” and need it in my hands immediately. Thank you.
Blog | Twitter | Pinterest
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, fanstasy-fun
Man, this is a hard one for me. On one hand, the world-building and descriptions are 5 stars. On the other hand, the plot is thin in some places (almost forced to move the story along); What could have been interesting is glossed over and other parts tend to drag leading to a lot of lull in the story.
I put this story down several times over a two month period. I read twenty other books in-between starting and finishing this book. At the beginning of the book, you think the random background in
C. S.
DNF around the 40 page mark.

I was really interested in the concept of this retelling, and thought it had a lot of promise, but several elements didn't end up working for me.

The fact that one of the POVs was entirely in verse is cool, don't get me wrong, but it yanked me right out of the story every single time. I also felt like the pacing in the 40 or so pages I read was a little wonky. I'm not a strict adherent of show-don't-tell, but if you're going to tell me a story, I need to fall so deeply
Brianna - Coffee Books and Bullet Journals
I am so utterly confused by this book... the writing and atmosphere were beautiful but it lacked so much substance that once we got into what I can only assume was the plot, I got bored. I have no idea how it is a Snow White retelling. I’m just so lost. This is disappointing to me because it was a highly anticipated release for me.
Levi van Zyl
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars???? 3 stars??? I don’t know.

This book really was....something. It sure was absolutely something. I am sure that I have read. Something.

The writing was excellent. I could have read about Rosie and Ivory for ages, and would have preferred that to the rushed and hastily thought out plot shoved into the last few chapters of the book. It’s 270 pages long yet the mystery and sinister ongoings promised on the back cover only hop in at around page 200. And even then I’m left with more questi
Samantha Fondriest
Jan 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
While The Circus Rose's intriguing synopsis promises circus magic, atmosphere, and found family, it fails to produce an interesting plot or provide characters the reader cares about. The plot lags; there is simultaneously too much going on and not enough fleshed out. We are rushed through some parts of the story that had potential to be interesting and further develop our characters, only to dally in parts where absolutely nothing happens. I felt like I was reading a first draft that needed seve ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
The cover artist is the real winner with this book.

The cover grabbed my attention and I requested this book from Netgalley. I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

I thought this was going to be a fun book, but found it to be a writer’s exercise in social justice instead.

The characters existed merely to exist as LGBTQ representation and the plot was forced forward just to give them something to do every now and then.

I felt like the author was inspired by Emily Morgenstern, but fo
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
The Circus Rose was a breath of fresh air, IMO. It was written in alternating POV's between twins Ivory and Rosie. I really loved that writing style and one POV was told in a regular writing style and the other written in a poetry writing style. There were times when the storyline either had a lull or got a little confusing for me, but I still overall really loved the story and characters. ...more
Sep 10, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: young-adult, queer
Impressively terribly written, tbh.

(view spoiler)
Melissa (YA Book Shelf)
I love fairytale retellings, in general, and “Snow White and Rose Red” was a story I read and reread often as a child, so as soon as I heard about The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell, I knew I had to read it. It’s told from the dual POVs of Rosie, an out lesbian who is neurodivergent, and her twin sister Ivory, who has always been attracted to boys, but she comes to realize that she’s on the Bi+ / pansexual spectrum after meeting Tam, a nonbinary fey who joins the circus.

This queer retelling of “S
Martha Sullivan
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an electronic ARC from NetGalley for this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

The first thing that grabs you about The Circus Rose is the combination of storytelling styles. The book alternates between prose narration from Ivory and verse narration from twin sister Rosie - like the sisters, Ivory's portion contains more exposition and relation of events (she is the engineer, technically minded and concerned with how things work) while Rosie's poetry fills in the emotion and offers
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
The premise underlying Betsy Corwell's The Circus Rose is engaging. Imagine an Earth-like world where religious fundamentalists fight against what they call "lies"—which include everything from fiction to magic to, you guessed it, circuses. Now imagine a circus traveling by air ship, run by a bearded woman whose twin daughters each have different fathers, featuring a chorus line of dancing boys who incite desire among audiences of all sexual proclivities, and a faerie who is both a magician and ...more
Haley Campbell
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
I loved the concept of this story! The writing was beautiful and atmospheric. The setting was compelling and mysterious. It’s told from alternating POV - Ivory and Rosie. I had a really hard time connecting with Rosie’s POV as it was told in poetry. The poetry didn’t really seem to flow... it felt more like thought fragments and sentences chopped in half. Ivory’s perspective was easier to connect to and is where most of the story is told but, I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I *need* dia ...more
Katie P.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs, ew-netgalley
Blog ✍ | Facebook 👩 | Twitter 🐦 | Instagram 📸

Clocking in at around 300 pages, this book is a quick read with a fast paced plot! This is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red with several fun twists and turns along the way! Twin sisters raised in a circus, one a performer and one a behind the scenes engineer, take on religious extremists and fight to save the people they love and their circus family. Great representation of gender identities in this book and nominal use of correct pronouns for c
Sam (Hissing Potatoes)
This book had a lot of good things to say about love, family, identity, and religious hypocrisy. I can see it resonating with some readers.

For me, the execution was subpar, especially compared to Cornwell's other books. Rosie's poetry chapters added nothing, just repeated what we learned from Ivory's chapters and thus bloated the book and slowed the pace. Ivory's internalizations seemed much more juvenile (and expositional) than her actions and age warranted. Lots of fairytale elements were spat
Karla Brading
Jun 25, 2020 rated it liked it
The writing is exceptionally beautiful. But the plot was severely lacking in bones. Masses of queer touches, and yet, that's all they ever were. Touches. It needed more depth. It was very much a 'just accept this throwaway comment about a grandiose concept.' If it had been richer, I would have given this 5 stars. The story was almost there. Unfortunately I came away a little bewildered. ...more
Emily Forsyth
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Non-binary love interest!!!
Anything with non-binary characters makes my heart happy.
Also background poly relationship 👌🏼

This book was hella queer and really good!
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

This novel evokes magic and magical realism to tell a story of family, prejudice, and finding your place in the world. The story is engaging and the characters are very realistic, but what struck me most what how inclusive the book was, with characters from multiple races, genders and sexual orientations. It was great to read something with so much diversity inherent to the plot.
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Betsy Cornwell is a New York Times bestselling author living in west Ireland. She is the story editor and a contributing writer at Parabola, and her short-form writing includes fiction, nonfiction, and literary translation and has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Zahir Tales, The Violence Prevention Initiative Journal, and elsewhere. She holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Not ...more

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