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The Ringmaster-bookcover

By: Karen Restaino

The Ringmaster

Pages: 436 Ratings: 5.0
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The Butterfly Theory – the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have significant effects elsewhere.

A thriller oscillating between three generations...

In 1937 Amy’s life was consumed by trying to survive, living hand to mouth on a small farmstead in the wild wind-swept hills of the Derbyshire moors high above the village of Castleton, England. Never knowing where the next meal might come from and with the added burden of caring for her aged, alcoholic father, Amy’s concerns cannot afford to stray far from the confines of High Oakham Cottage. Out of the blue, a new bright, fresh horizon opens before them in the form of a circus. Amy and her father, being swept away by the arrival of Circus Franconi, are transported by the kaleidoscope of fascination, colour and energy that the circus presents. As the ringmaster traverses his audience with an exciting realm of chaos, surrealism and magic, his long-awaited fantastic finale is yet to be unveiled. Waiting in the wings to explode in a confetti concoction of perfidy and intrigue embroiled in a dark long-forgotten past, the sadistic influence of the ringmaster creeps silently through the very walls of High Oakham Cottage, searching for the best finale ever. As the saying goes, the show must go on...and on...and on...

In 2020 a father and daughter, Len and Georgia, move to High Oakham cottage to escape the chaos of London following the tragic death of Len’s wife. Their lives turn for the worse when they find themselves embroiled in a mystery that has haunted the locals for years.

Karen Restaino began her writing career as a playwright with her debut stage play, a Victorian period drama, A Guinea Too Much, being successfully performed at the Mansfield Palace Theatre in 2003 and her TV drama, Age Concerned, shortlisted for Channel 4’s The Plays The Thing in 2006. The mother of four returned to education shortly after studying for a BA in Theatre Studies at the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, South London, then went on to attain a PGCE in her home town of Sheffield at Hallam University.

Since then, Karen, now 54, and a grandmother with five grandchildren, had a burning desire to return to writing. The Ringmaster is her first novel, which incorporates her fascination with the art of Theatre with a love of storytelling.


Customer Reviews
1 reviews
1 reviews
  • Beth

    I loved this book - it has a thrilling, fast-paced storyline that grips you to its pages. It also includes wonderfully descriptive insight into the circus itself. Spanning three generations, we see the same town but different people passing through it. You'd think this would complicate things, but even through their similarities and history seeming to dangerously repeat itself, I felt as if I knew each character individually.

    Amy, who is living through the 1930s, and Georgia, who is living through the 2020s, have eerily similar lives. It's a little bit creepy! When Amy's life turns upside down, you feel incredibly anxious for her, but what makes this extra fascinating is the double anxiety you feel. History seems to be repeating itself after all, are the awful things that are happening to Amy, also going to happen to Georgia? This made me want to power through the book but also made me want to savor each and every word, staying in this world for as long as possible.

    The overall history and apparent curse of the house and The Ringmaster were creepy. I'd love a whole other book just on that! Don't go into the barn, folks! There is some heavy content in this book, but it's written well and adds great shock factor/terror of this situation, constantly building tension and making you wonder: what could possibly be next?

    Don't get me wrong, I appreciate The Ringmaster is not supposed to be liked. But my my, he might be a favorite villain for me. That showdown towards the end and the ending itself.......what a performance! I pictured it as if I was there.

    This was excellent. Highly recommend!

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