Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Reviews of Theatre Of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth

Theatre Of Marvels

A Novel

by Lianne Dillsworth

Theatre Of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth X
Theatre Of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2022, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Apr 2023, 320 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Set amid the bustle of Victorian London, an irresistible story of an ambitious young Black actress, an orphan from the slums who has finally achieved a dubious stardom as "The Great Amazonia, a savage African queen" - but everything she has fought for depends on hiding the secret of her own identity.

As an orphan in the slums of St. Giles, Zillah was determined never to become part of the notorious Blackbird gang. With nothing to rely on but her own wit, she convinces infamous producer Marcus Stratton to hire her for his variety show in nineteenth-century London. But the act Stratton has in mind for Zillah is as The Great Amazonia, "a savage queen from darkest Africa." His drunken audience laps this up, and as Zillah's star rises, Stratton makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that her survival depends on her true identity staying secret. This careful planning is upended when Zillah finds herself caught between the attention of a mysterious Black gentleman and Stratton's Viscount friend, who promises her the world. When another young Black woman in Stratton's employ goes missing, Zillah realizes she'll have to make a choice: follow her ambitions, or stay true to herself.

Theatre of Marvels is a thrilling love story, a piercing commentary on a brutal racial history, and a delicious Victorian adventure.

I
The African in the Audience

Go to the theatre much? No, nor me. At least not before I became an actress. I know what you're thinking. Actress, eh? But you can keep your dirty-minded thoughts to yourself. I trod the boards and no more. Doesn't mean I don't have a story or two to tell, mind. Would you be kind enough to indulge me if I talked about the old days? Hard as it was back then, I can't say that if I had my time again I'd change it.

That feeling you get before the show starts. Whether you've been up Drury Lane once, twice, or ten times, I reckon you'll know it. It comes up on you as the lights go down. The fizzing in your belly conjured by cheap gin and jellied eels at a farthing a pot. Keep your eyes hard fixed on the curtain in front of you. Those red velvet folds, with their heavy gold trim. You're so eager at the thought of the performance to come, you tell yourself you saw it move. But if you really want first peek it's best to look to the left of the stage. Time it right...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel is effectively evocative of the Victorian era and rich in period detail. Despite this, it always remains pacey, keeping readers on their toes with a good dose of intrigue and plenty of twists. A few threads feel somewhat rushed towards the end, as the narrative skirts on the edge of melodrama, but on the whole, Dillsworth balances the various characters and plot points well by always keeping her spirited heroine at the story's heart...continued

Full Review (492 words)

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Dillsworth's engrossing debut probes the underbelly of Victorian London's musical theatre scene...Dillsworth's graphic descriptions of pungent docks, warehouses, opium dens, and back alleys create an immersive atmosphere, and the author rounds things out with strong secondary characters...It all adds up to a stunning historical drama.

Library Journal
Thoroughly researched details of life in Victorian London and Zillah's chatty narration create very appealing historical fiction. Purchase for readers who love Victorian settings and independent, feisty women characters.

Kirkus Reviews
While Dillsworth does a decent job of evoking Victorian London and her pacing isn't terrible, readers will see the plot twists, such as they are, coming a mile (kilometre?) away. Dillsworth shows some promise, but this novel never manages to rise above the level of unremarkable.

Author Blurb Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne
Theatre of Marvels is a fascinating, empowering story of a young woman's search for identity and justice in Victorian London, a world which Lianne Dillsworth evokes so richly.

Author Blurb Laura Purcell, author of The Silent Companions
A dazzling tale of self-discovery with a cast of vivid characters. I loved it.

Author Blurb Stacey Hall, bestselling author of The Familiars
Richly evocative and glittering with atmosphere.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

The Sierra Leone Resettlement Scheme

Black-and-white illustration of a view of Freetown, Sierra Leone on the coast of the Sierra Leone River, 1803 In Lianne Dillsworth's novel Theatre of Marvels, a settlement plan resembling the Sierra Leone Resettlement Scheme comes to represent the possibility of a fresh start, freedom and community for the story's heroine, Zillah, and fellow Black people living in Victorian Britain who are struggling to feel like they belong.

Located on the west coast of Africa, Sierra Leone was used as a location for British trade from the mid-17th century onward, including the slave trade, before eventually being colonized. Following the abolition of slavery in Britain in 1772, the African country was soon earmarked as a potential destination for former slaves and their descendants. The Sierra Leone Resettlement Scheme was put into action in the late 18th ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Theatre Of Marvels, try these:

  • The Vanishing Half jacket

    The Vanishing Half

    by Brit Bennett

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

  • Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen jacket

    Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen

    by Dexter Palmer

    Published 2020

    About this book

    More by this author

    In 1726, in the town of Godalming, England, a woman confounded the nation's medical community by giving birth to seventeen rabbits. This astonishing true story is the basis for Dexter Palmer's stunning, powerfully evocative new novel.

We have 4 read-alikes for Theatre Of Marvels, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Big Time
    Big Time
    by Ben H. Winters
    Big Time, the latest offering from prolific novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters, is as ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...
  • Book Jacket: Say Hello to My Little Friend
    Say Hello to My Little Friend
    by Jennine CapĂł Crucet
    Twenty-year-old Ismael Reyes is making a living in Miami as an impersonator of the rapper/singer ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.