Fiction Ed’s Book Review: “Show Stealer” by Hayley Barker

Show Stealer

Never judge a book by its cover, they say. Even if it is a “Show Stealer” . . .

Well, if you watched us on Facebook Live last Friday — when Angela, Liz and I were talking books — you’ll know that’s exactly what I did.

The book that caught my eye was Show Stealer by Hayley Barker.

The cover is shiny silver and purple. The blurb on the back reads:

A circus on fire. Fugitives on the run. The deadliest show on earth is ready for an encore.

I thought it was a murder mystery set against the backdrop of circus life written in a jolly style.

Well, I judged it completely wrong! For starters, it’s a young adult book. I began to suspect as much as I got into it and the two protagonists were plainly young, possibly teenaged. It’s also a dystopian fantasy. It’s set in a London of the future. A London divided into the Pures and the Dregs – basically the Haves and the Have Nots. But the Haves don’t want the Have Nots tainting their ideal world and have banished them to their own desperate slums. Sounds a bit like now, doesn’t it?

There is a circus, but it’s a long way from the jolly big top I’d imagined. Called the Cirque, it’s a gladiator-style arena where murder and torture take place for entertainment. The victims, of course, are Dregs – seen as disposable, valueless, sub-human. It’s horrifically reminiscent of the Holocaust, and any form of racism and segregation.

A valuable, educational book

In many ways, it’s a very adult book. But a valuable, educational book for young people to read, too. I must ask one of our office mums how their youngsters would view it.

This is the second in this series. The first was “Show Stopper”, and I think it would have been useful to have read that first. Coming in at book 2, I found it took longer than I wanted to orientate myself in what was going on, what the story had been so far.

Hero and heroine are Ben and Hoshiko, a young couple. The story is told from their alternating viewpoints as they become separated through his heroism, and find themselves on opposite sides of the Dregs/Pures divide. It’s worth reading, just not the read I was expecting.

Order your copy of the Show Stealer by clicking here 

Read more of the team’s book reviews here.

Shirley Blair

Fiction Ed Shirley’s been with the “Friend” since 2007 and calls it her dream job because she gets to read fiction all day every day. Hobbies? Well, that would be reading! She also enjoys writing fiction when she has time, long walks, travel, and watching Scandi thrillers on TV.