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Literature / Spider Circus

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Young Lizzie Mc Coy is living an ordinary life in a small English village, she goes to school, babysits her brothers and tries to cope with her parents’ divorce but after one argument too many Lizzie runs away and joins the Spider Circus. It doesn’t take her long to realise it isn’t an ordinary circus and soon Lizzie is travelling from world to world helping the circus put on the best show not on earth. But not everyone is being honest with Lizzie, like the Ringmaster, Jack, for example. He’s taken a particular interest in her and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.


Spider Circus is the first novel in The Shadows series and it is the debut novel of Alice Nuttall, co-creator of Footloose (the webcomic. No relation to the film of the same name.)

Can be read here.

Spider Circus provides examples of:

  • Aliens Speaking English: Lizzie has no trouble understanding the people in the worlds they visit. Justified because Jack only visits worlds where he can speak the language.
  • All Myths Are True: What are myths in our world are real in others and it seems that people who can jump are responsible for the spreading of these myths.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": the carnivorous ‘horse’ probably wouldn’t be a horse by our definition.
  • The Casanova: Dmitri.
  • Clockwork Creature: The spider Lizzie builds.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Jack. And Doctor Scott is a bit absentminded, to Damien’s misfortune.
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  • Crapsack World: Damien’s homeworld. Thanks to what sounds like a nuclear holocaust.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters but especially Lizzie.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lizzie doesn’t kowtow to Selena, so Selena arranges to have her abandoned in another world. Maybe. You can’t prove it.
  • Eyescream: Almost happens to Damien.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Tansy, the mechanic hyena.
  • Gratuitous French: Latin actually.
  • Metaphorgotten: The worlds are like a knitting basket but more like the wool in a knitting basket. But there are cracks. In the wool.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Selena's reaction to what she thinks is a love triangle between herself Lizzie, and Jack.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Dmitri did to get the circus chased out of Mediton. And Doctor Scott’s offhand comment about poorly made sentient machines having a tendency to ‘rampage’.
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  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Sort of. It’s a bit ominous.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: They don’t breathe fire.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The Shadows seem to be the inspiration for vampire myths in many different worlds, but besides being pale and not liking sunlight they don’t have much in common with vampires of myth.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They seem to be ordinary humans with a psychic link to ordinary wolves.
  • Seen It All: Or so Lizzie claims, until she sees dragons.
  • Straight Gay: Damien
  • Team Mom: Jack is in charge of the circus. Kate and Maria are in charge of Jack.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Steel can stop magic.
  • Wrench Wench: Lizzie.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes? Lizzie and her fear of heights.


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