The families of the Palomas and Corbeaus have been enemies for twenty years and every year the two families of traveling performers attend the same festival. The Palomas perform as mermaids, swimming and amazing their audience. The Corbeaus fly high in the trees as tightrope walkers. Lace Paloma is in her first year of performing in her family’s show and she knows to stay away from the Corbeaus and their black magic. But when disaster strikes the town, Lace is saved by none other than Cluck Corbeau. His touch banishes her from her family and he allows her into his. As they begin to fall for each other, they have to be sure no one else finds out who she is or else both their lives will be in danger.
This book had such an interesting concept that when I first heard about it, it immediately was highly ranked on my TBR list. I was excited to lose myself to the magical realism and the feud between the Palomas and the Corbeaus, and the forbidden love between Lace and Cluck. The story was told in the alternating POVs of Lace and Cluck, which helped add to the feud between to the families since the reader got to see both sides and their beliefs. Each chapter, depending on which character’s POV it was, was headed by a saying either in Spanish or French.
Lace was a rookie at performing in shows and was always trying to prove herself to her grandmother, who ran everything. All she wanted was to be a part of it and to show her grandmother and the others that she could contribute to their show. She did everything she was supposed to do so when she was cast out for allowing a Corbeau to touch her, in order to save her life, I was angry for her. Cluck was almost the opposite. He wasn’t a performer in his family’s show but fixed the wings they used in the performance. He was an outcast in his own family because of the colour of his feathers. He was bullied by the others, especially his brother Dax, but as much as he might have wanted to leave, no one truly left the family.
Their paths crossed when Cluck saved Lace, without knowing who she was, and his touch marked her for all her family to see. For their protection, they believed they must cast her out and Lace believed she needed to seek Cluck’s forgiveness to erase her mark and rejoin her family. She ended up getting pulled into his family’s performance and learning that maybe all their beliefs weren’t true. The star-crossed, forbidden lovers tale has been done many times but I still enjoyed their spin on it. It wasn’t an insta-love connection, though there did always seem to be something between them right away, even before they knew it.
The magical realism was mostly subtle. There were mentions of feathers and scales(or birthmarks) on the performers’ bodies and dark magic but it was never at the forefront of the story. The main story focused on the relationship between Lace and Cluck, the feud between the families, and the growth of the two main characters.
The writing was beautiful. There were many quotable passages and it made the book a quick read because of the way the words flowed together. Stopping at any point felt like stopping in the middle of an important part because they all felt so connected. The only real complaint I had was that the ending felt a little fast and I had to purposely slow down in reading it so to not miss anything. Having to do that disrupting the reading flow a little and made it less enjoyable.