By Molly E. Johnson
352 pages – ages 10+ (**with a warning)
Published by RainTown Press on October 26, 2011
Spartacus Ryan Zander’s mom (Athena) was a little kooky…OK she was downright strange. She was always trying to do circus tricks like leaping off the roof onto a trampoline and she was obsessed with being a circus performer. Spartacus’ Dad was always taking Will’s (Spartacus’ older brother) side in arguments and pretty much didn’t believe anything Spartacus said. Will treated Spartacus poorly (but a lot of older brothers will do that). The day Spartacus started seventh grade Athena turned up missing and the house was a mess! The sink was overflowing, the TV was broken and there were knives stuck in the cabinet doors! Will thought maybe she left them and Spartacus’ dad didn’t say much. Spartacus and his best friend Eli had evidence that Athena was kidnapped by the evil Bartholomew’s Circus. Spartacus runs away to try to find her and Eli helps by guiding him along using his internet skills. Along his road trip, Spartacus has amazing adventures and meets up with zany allies. When Spartacus finally finds his mom, it isn’t the reunion he was expecting…
I REALLY got into reading this book (no, really, I got in trouble at least three times for not listening because I was reading this book). I really liked this book because of the humor, action and adventure in it. Spartacus was a good main character and likeable. He has cool talents like fire-breathing, escaping from ropes and knife throwing (all circus talents). The character I liked the most was a scary biker guy named Lloyd Loeke, a guy that Spartacus got a ride from and it turned out that even though he looked scary he was a pretty nice guy. The whole plot of the story was strange but in a good way. You never knew where Spartacus’ adventure would turn next. The book had some sad parts to the plot (mostly about Athena not being a very good mother) but it didn’t make the book overly sad, it was really more wacky than anything. When I got the request to review this book, I asked my usual “Is there any bad language, graphic violence, or any other inappropriate content for a 10 year-old” question to Ms. Johnson. She replied “There is a swear word on page 40. But that’s it–I promise.” My mom edited the curse word out of my copy and inserted “bad word”. “Bad word” appeared 3 times on page 40 but my mom OK’d the rest of the book (thanks Ms. Johnson for the warning!). If I were to change anything about the book I would have it be completely clean so younger advanced readers could read the book. Come on Ms. Johnson! Us younger kids want good stories too!! **I recommend the book to kids 10+ with the warning to parents about page 40!
I give the totally wacky adventure story “Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows” five out of five book worms!
To learn more about “Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows” and Ms. Johnson please visit her website HERE.