Shadowplay by Laura Lam
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For some reason, while my local library has a pretty extensive collection, they seem oddly lacking in books from smaller publishers and books from Bay Area writers - of which the second Micah Grey novel qualifies as both. Thankfully, Berkeley Public Library had a copy which I could special order.
Micah and Drystan spend this book in the company of magicians - similar ilk to Pantomime's circus performers, so it's not too different from the first book. However, Lam keeps things interesting with our performing heroes' ongoing "on the lam" (excuse my pun) storyline following the events of Pantomime. Flashbacks are less frequent, and instead we get a few more scenes where Drystan talks about his past. I especially liked the one where he talked about how much of a rebel he was in his younger days. As for Micah, he embraces his non-binary identity more strongly in this book, freely dressing in masculine or feminine clothes as needed. More than ever, I find myself wondering which pronouns I should use to refer to Micah - I'm still leaning more towards male ones, but that's more out of habit than anything else after having done so in my head all throughout the first book, while using female pronouns to refer to Gene before she ran away from home.
Another excellent part of this book is the romance between Micah and Drystan. I expected it to build up in this book, and happily, I found it to be a slow burn, consisting largely of scenes of the two of them cuddling at night and being awkward in the best of ways. (And sometimes, not the best of ways, but those not-best of ways are a bit spoilery.) At least once, Micah talks about craving human contact - making him once again so very much relatable to me, as I've been single all my life and am thus always starved for affection.
The strong and satisfying romance gives this book a far sweeter ending than its predecessor. No spoilers, of course. All I will say is that I'm glad I won't have to wait such a long time for Book 3, as I would have if I'd discovered these books sooner.
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