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Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,995 ratings  ·  476 reviews
Come inside and take a seat; the show is about to begin...

Outside any city still standing, the Mechanical Circus Tresaulti sets up its tents. Crowds pack the benches to gawk at the brass-and-copper troupe and their impossible feats: Ayar the Strong Man, the acrobatic Grimaldi Brothers, fearless Elena and her aerialists who perform on living trapezes. War is everywhere, bu
Paperback, 284 pages
Published May 10th 2011 by Prime Books (first published April 23rd 2011)
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,995 ratings  ·  476 reviews

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☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Barely more than gibberish. I'm not persuaded it's steampunk, even though it's all about beings with clockwork parts. There's entirely too much rambling about clockwork wings. I'm not persuaded it's a novel. I'm not persuaded it's worth reading at all.

We get a lot of novelettes, vignettes on things that seem to have been designed to draw the reader's attention and hold him/her/them a captive audience. One of the parts is about constumes, one about government men and so on... But it doesn't work,
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Poetic but grim. The Circus Tresaulti travels across a dystopian future. It's performers are lost souls, former soldiers turned aerialists, acrobats and a strong man, each a composite of human, copper and steel. Their relationships are intricate and complicated. Mechanique is about people not punk. Together they form an eclectic family ultimately called to fight for their creator. Highly original, and beautifully written in a unique almost documentary style. Everything that the over-rated Emily ...more
This is a fucking phenomenal prose poem. I know, it's billed as a novel, but trust me on this: it's a prose poem. The writing is just gorgeous. As soon as I finished, I started all over again, just so I could wallow in the language and recognize the things which resonated on the second reading and hadn't on the first. The last novel that impressed me this much was Nicola Griffith's Slow River, and this is frankly better than Griffth's debut, Ammonite, which is an impressive debut in its own righ ...more
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing

I can't write. My artistic gifts are in other areas, and usually I'm okay with that. But every now and again I'll read a book that makes me grind my teeth in frustration -- why oh why oh WHY can't I write like this?!

Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti is exactly that kind of book.

If I COULD write, I could explain how elegant the writing is, how the author weaves together various stories and viewpoints to gradually build the tale of the Circus Tresaulti, never coming right out and sayin
Feb 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
So it turns out there were two steampunky books about circuses released in 2011, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and this one. They begin similarly, with descriptions of how outsiders first approach the circus, and from there on the comparison is probably inevitable. The world of Mechanique, however, is very different from the lushly-described world of The Night Circus: where The Night Circus is almost overwhelmingly rich, Mechanique seems barren and dry.

The story takes place in an unidenti
Nerine Dorman
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes stories exist that hit all of my buttons at the same time, and Mechanique is one of those rare finds for 2012 that really succeeded in keeping me glued to my ereader. Where do I start? Perhaps with my love for travellers. I watched both seasons of Carnivale a few years ago and that really captured my imagination. The concept of a group of misfits journeying together who somehow succeed in being a family. Then of course, Genevieve Valentine plays with a concept that is near and dear to ...more
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: steampunk, fantasy
This is written like my dreams.

I honestly cannot say whether this novel will resonate for others the way it did for me. The story is exceedingly nonlinear, the narration bounces from first person to second to third close to third omniscent between chapters. There are parts that do not quite make sense on a logical plane when examined closely, mysteries that are never explained or even justified. Many of the characters are not particularly likeable people.

But the writing aches.

I dream in deeply
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shortish and weird version: I love this book. If I were a tattoo person (by which I mean a person who gets tattoos, not a literal tattoo person, imprisoned in someone else’s skin), I’d want this book tattooed on my body, but a 3D style tattoo, which would look weird (and would probably look like a growth or a goiter), I know, but I can’t help how I feel!

Longer version: This book is another lesson in there being no absolutes in “things I don’t like” statements, at least when it comes to art. A le
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, steampunk
There's some lovely writing here, but the story is told in such an episodic fashion - changing narrators, jumping around in time - it makes for a frustrating, rather than fascinating read. The descriptions provided were sparse, making visualization difficult, and the characters do not have distinct personalities. One of them is apparently "a bitch," though this is alluded to, rather than demonstrated.

Just because something is made of spare parts, does it have to be soulless?

How can someone nam
Althea Ann
May 24, 2012 rated it liked it
There were things I liked about this book... and there were things that annoyed me about this book.
I felt as if any Readers Advisory Service out there would say? What? You loved China Mieville's 'The Scar?' and you loved Erin Morgenstern's "The Night Circus?" Well then, HAVE I GOT A BOOK FOR YOU! And I have to say... ""
This book does indeed have many of the elements that I've loved from both of those books. Grotesquely mechanically enhanced people. A circus with performers who do not di
Craig Laurance
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Though it has steampunk flavoring, Mechanique is a hybrid novel, much like the half-human/half-mechanical characters (creatures?) it describes. It’s a New Weird dark fantasy tale set in a dystopian war-torn landscape. The structure of the story and its narrative cogs are very postmodern. The text vacillates between first person narrative (in the voice of Little George, the Circus gofer) and third person points-of-view that range from brief character sketches to omniscient mis en scenes.
The nove
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

First and foremost let me say this is a book of characters and ideas. Meaning it's not about the plot, and, as such, the plot that does exist is a bit slow going and mostly serves to further develop the characters.

As long as I'm interested in the characters or the ideas, I am totally cool with this. For those who are not, though, this is not the book for you.

I also really loved the voice of the story. It's got that whole dreamy quality to it. It's sort of like The Night Circus as written by C
Jul 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wouldya look at that, I finally finished reading this? I'm not entirely sure why I stopped: it's not a hard read, and the short chapters pull you on through the story pretty well. There's some gorgeous writing, and the whole structure of it -- the mix of POVs, tenses, etc -- makes it pretty absorbing as you try to figure out all the whys and wherefores. Some of the imagery is just... disgusting, visceral, beautiful, all at once.

The characters are not exactly likeable, but fascinating: Elena, who
Mar 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This book has a plot, it does, it surely does, but the presentation obscures the action almost to the point where it swallows it whole, for the tale is told in first, second and third person and also in the story's present and its past. Confusing? Yes.

Absorbing? Yes. Frustrating? Most certainly. Brilliant? Possibly. Flawed? I think so. Whether the flaws outweigh the brilliance is yes to be decided.

I bought this book for my Kindle because it's on the Nebula shortlist for best novel and I thought
Margaret Fisk
May 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
I taught a class called Ideas to Outlines, or Outlining for Organics. As part of the process I presented, I tried to cover all the possible starting points for a novel. The hardest for me was a mood story, because I hadn’t actually encountered one with that focus. I’m all about story, and in most modern novels at least, that means plot-focused.

Mechanique proved me wrong in the most delightful way. This is not a book for the plot-driven, straight-forward reader, but if you’re willing to lay your
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Saying too much about the story of this book could spoil it, especially since it's not terribly long. So I'll try not to be too specific, although I'd like to fill up the character limit with all the things I found striking about it.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters, and became quite attached to a handful of them. (The character described as "bitch" practically the second she walked onstage ended up being the one I most empathized with.)

About two-thirds of the way through, a plot showed u
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book won't be for everyone, and everything I loved - the terse and taut writing style, the ruthless characterisation, the unflinching slow collision of tragedies and unravelling of mysteries - might be something others don't like. True for everything, and I really did love this.

It's about belonging and being outside, it's about refuge and sacrifice, it's about wanting and about refusing... it's about loving someone so hard and for so long that you no longer see them, and hating someone so c
M.K. Hobson
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
MECHANIQUE is an enormous book—not in size (for it is rather physically compact) but rather in scope. Valentine has an astonishing talent for suggesting a thousand words of backstory with a dozen or so well-crafted words. And yet, the effect is not at all spare or stripped down; you walk away feeling as though you've just read an epic. All the characters are fascinatingly flawed, full of contradictions. There are no villains in this story; everyone's motivation is understandable and, to varying ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-five-stars
I didn't leave a review when I read this in 2014. I should have. But I probably couldn't. I still can't. This book was magic. And, at the time, like nothing I'd ever read before. I sniffed at "Steampunk" and as with The Siren and BDSM and Him with M/M, I was put in my place. And now I beat everyone I love over the head with it.
DAMMIT!(Whack) (Whack) (Whack)
 Linda (Miss Greedybooks)
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: circus, steampunk
Beautiful descriptions of horrific things? Mysterious Boss builds her circus - she has rules of just what kind of person she allows to join her travelling troup. I liked the performers and how they deal with the war outside the circus, the war within, each other, and Boss.
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
One of the best things about blogging is the exposure to books I wouldn't have known about if it wasn't for the various relationships forged along the way. One of my favorite authors (Alex Bledsoe) recently recommended the book Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti by Genevieve Valentine and once I read that the story was about a "steampunk-flavored circus," I was in.

Mechanique is a meandering story, much like the circus it depicts. Set some time in a distant future in a world torn apart by
Melanie Lamaga
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel, which received a Nebula nomination for Best Novel, takes place in a post-war landscape. The particulars are left vague: we know that there were bombs and radiation, followed by smaller wars for control, and the creation of city-states. Outside of these, borders have become fluid, and life brutal.

To stay out of trouble, the Circus Tresaulti travels a wide circuit; the towns they visit may not exist by the time they return. Those who join the circus are looking for a measure of securit
Tahlia Newland
Jun 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: steampunk
If you like strange and different and are fascinated by the idea of a steampunk circus, then don’t miss Mechanique It’s unlike anything I have read before. I didn’t dislike it, but I couldn’t say that I really liked it either. The idea is great, the story good but the way it’s written made it hard for me to get into.

The first half of this book jumps between characters, events and times so much that I was never sure who was narrating the story. The primary narrator didn’t have a name, sex or des
Shanna Swendson
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
I got a copy of Mechanique at WorldCon last year and ended up reading it in one sitting on the flight home. I would describe it kind of as a post-apocalyptic steampunk version of the TV series Carnivale (though with an actual circus instead of sideshows). The book is written in a more "literary" style, so it's not a straightforward, plot-driven narrative. It jumps about between first-person, second-person and third-person viewpoint and jumps around in time, weaving incidents from the past into t ...more
Nicki Markus
I have struggled all morning to decide how to rate and review this book. Why? Because I loved and hated it at the same time.

What I loved was the amazingly beautiful prose that captured an almost poetic quality at times. This book was beautifully written and the prose was a joy to read.

However, I found the presentation somewhat distracting and detracting. There is a story to this book, but you really have to fight to find it at times amidst constant jumps in the timeline and narrator switches tha
I really liked the description at the beginning of the book and the concept was a good one. I know this is fantasy, but the setting, characters, 'bio-technology' (if you can call it that) and context were too sketchy to be believable.

I was also irritated by the rapid changes in narrative voice and was often so disorientated that I would re-read whole sections to try and find where it had changed. Was I missing something fundamental? Was this a clever ploy to underline some dream-like quality? W
Jul 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Wow. First novel.

What could have been fascinating read in a post-semiapocalyptic world was a meandering, poorly structured mystery novel. It jumps artlessly and needlessly between POVs, switching from first to third person. It jumbles flashbacks together with lots of awkward, explicit foreshadowing, self-accusing asides and parenthetical statements.

The characters are brilliantly drawn but by the time the secondary players came into use, my eyes were skipping past paragraph after paragraph of moo
Dec 14, 2011 rated it liked it
This book suffered from coming out at roughly the same time as The Night Circus, being in more or less the same genre, having more or less the same themes, and being not as good and not as advertised. But it's the not as good that is the most important. Like the Night Circus, this book takes up a magical circus with steam punk influences. The characters are not as well developed and neither is the world. It struck me that the author of The Night Circus talks about being influenced by the Theatre ...more
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
I never read a steampunk book I didn't like. Until this came along.
What was wrong with this book? Beyond the mechanicals, there are no steampunk elements. No cool outfits or gears and not a zeppelin in sight. The plot is very thin. The characters act oddly and occasionally there's no logic behind their actions. Valentine loves parentheses to the extent that they are used so often as to become tiresome and it just slows the story down.
Here's a few specific problems with this novel: It's hard to r
Alexandria Romero
Apr 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
I can’t believe anyone liked this book. I could not wait to be done with it and only finished it because I read it for book club. I also was hoping the end would be good, but it wasn’t. It was trash. I literally wanted to just throw the book on the ground, meh
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Genevieve Valentine has sold more than three dozen short stories; her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Journal of Mythic Arts, Fantasy Magazine, Lightspeed, and Apex, and in the anthologies Federations, The Living Dead 2, The Way of the Wizard, Running with the Pack, Teeth, and more.

Her nonfiction has appeared in Lightspeed,, and Fantasy Magazine, a

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