Book Review: Girl in the Shadows (Girl on a Wire Book 2) by Gwenda Bond

Moira's father refuses to let her do magic, so when she gets a chance to secretly pursue her dream with the Cirque American, she takes it. But when the real magic Moira didn't even know she had suddenly shows up, it puts both her and the charming knife thrower who's captured her heart in danger.

Book Review : Girl in the Shadows (Girl on a Wire Book 2) by Gwenda Bond | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, magical realism, magicians
Title: Girl in the Shadows
Book Number: Book 2 of TBA
Pages: 382
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon


*I received a free ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

First things first, this is the second book in a series, but it’s about different characters. I don’t think you need to read the first book in order to understand it, but you may be slightly confused about who certain characters are or what they’re talking about in reference to certain events or objects from the first book.

Now for my actual thoughts on the book… I really liked Girl on a Wire and was excited for another book in the Cirque American setting, but this ended up being one of those books that was good, had no big flaws, and had a nice story but lacked that extra oomph for me.

The Good:

– The book had some really great feminism and LGBT messages. The book was basically about a female fighting for recognition in a male-dominated profession, and there were also mentions of positive body image, accepting people regardless of their sexual orientation/how they dress, and the ridiculous double standard that shames girls for having sex while it praises boys for it. And Moira herself was headstrong and went after what she wanted.

– Moira and Dez had a healthy relationship. Moira handled the relationship bumps maturely and talked to Dez instead of overreacting, and they were both supportive of and stood up for each other. They were also straightforward and communicated instead of playing games.

– Moira had a great relationship with her father. Yes, she lied to him, but I could understand why. And yes, he lied to her, but I could understand that too because he truly thought he was doing what was best. He was a good father, and they clearly cared about each other and had a strong, realistic bond.

– Reading about the magic (the illusions) was fun and interesting. I’ve always been a fan of magic acts.

The Not-So-Good:

– Though Moira had a lot of good traits, I didn’t like how reckless she was or how she was using real magic in her acts as it seemed a bit like cheating. And her decision to follow Dez and Brandon into the house party was just epically bad.

– This is being nitpicky since it wasn’t a big part of the story, but it seemed unrealistic that Dez used audience members in his knife throwing act. It doesn’t matter if someone has thrown perfectly 7000 times, the 7001st time could be the time he messes up, and it seems unethical to use people who aren’t trained professionals and don’t fully know the risks. And not only would it be dangerous, I doubt any business owner or insurance company would ever allow that.

– My real issue though was the whole secret magical society thing. It made the book feel more over-the-top than realistic. Yes, I realize the book was about magic, but it’s also what I would classify as magical realism, and the secret society just pushed it a little too far for me and took the focus away from the actual magic. It did up the stakes and will be a gripping and interesting aspect for many readers I’m sure, just not for me. I would’ve preferred the book be more like Girl on a Wire with more focus on the romance, the circus, and how the magic itself affected Moira.


As I said, even though it didn’t blow me away, this was not a bad book, and my issues were pretty subjective, not serious flaws. So if it does sound like something that interests you, I do recommend giving it a read!


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  1. AngelErin

    This looks like an interesting series. I want to read the first one. I’m pretty sure I saw the first book on your blog as well. I’m glad you liked this one, despite a few flaws. Excellent review!

  2. Resh Susan

    I love magical realism. So this sounds fun for me!! And magic plus femisnism is a deadly combo indeed. Cant think of another book with similar themes

  3. Greg

    Magic plus circus sounds like a win. I normally like a little secret society in my reads but it has to be the right fit, and if this is magical realism vs say UF or whatever then yeah it probably doesn’t fit. Still glad to hear it had some good things going for it. Moira sounds like a great character, although yeah the knife throwing thing- probably not happening. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      Magic and circus are always a great combo, but there wasn’t a whole lot of circus in this one. It was more just the setting. But yeah, I don’t know, the secret society just didn’t work for me in this particular book. But it definitely did have some good things! Like I said, not bad, just not amazing for me either. I kept thinking about my recent “big things vs. little things” post the whole time because the knife throwing was one of those damn little things that kept nagging at me lol.

  4. Lola

    That’s good to know before you start that this book is about different characters. I still prefer to read those type of series in order as well. Too bad this one lacked that extra oomph, it sounds like you enjoyed book 1 more than this one. I like how you describe the romance in this book and how the characters actually communicated. The Magic tricks also sound fun. The secret society sounds a bit over the top. I haven’t read a lot of magical realism, but the ones I read were pretty low key with the magic aspect, even one going as far as to doubt whether things were actually magic or not, which worked great there.

    That nitpicky points reminds me of your big things versus small things post, with how those small things can really bother you. I agree that using audience members in a knife throwing act seems a bit risky, even if it has gone always right it can always go wrong once. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      I don’t normally read these types of series. What happened with this one was that I thought Girl in the Shadows was just going to be a standalone, but then this came out, so of course I wanted to read it lol. But yes, if I do read these types of series, I still prefer to read them in order. There are always little things that make more sense when read in order. But I did enjoy Book 1 more. This one did have some great things, but it just fell a bit flat for me.

      I posted that before I read this book, and I swear I was thinking about it the whole time, haha, because this was definitely one of those little things that just kept nagging at me. I’m glad you understand what I was saying though about the knife throwing. Thanks!