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Smoke, Mirrors and Demons

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Welcome to the circus – the most demonic show on earth! Ten years ago, I ran away from my home in the circus, leaving behind things my teenage self couldn’t handle. I kept my life on the straight and narrow, even building a career in law enforcement to make amends. Now my boss wants me back there, undercover. The cool, hipster carnival troupe I infiltrate is miles moved Welcome to the circus – the most demonic show on earth! Ten years ago, I ran away from my home in the circus, leaving behind things my teenage self couldn’t handle. I kept my life on the straight and narrow, even building a career in law enforcement to make amends. Now my boss wants me back there, undercover. The cool, hipster carnival troupe I infiltrate is miles moved from the rough and tumble circus I grew up in but it has its own dangers: murder, mayhem and demonic forces. Grisly murders trail this troupe and make them prime suspects. I need to get hard evidence to build a case but, as emotions become entangled and old fears resurface, it’s time for a tough decision: embrace the powers I’ve rejected for the last ten years or let innocent people die.


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Welcome to the circus – the most demonic show on earth! Ten years ago, I ran away from my home in the circus, leaving behind things my teenage self couldn’t handle. I kept my life on the straight and narrow, even building a career in law enforcement to make amends. Now my boss wants me back there, undercover. The cool, hipster carnival troupe I infiltrate is miles moved Welcome to the circus – the most demonic show on earth! Ten years ago, I ran away from my home in the circus, leaving behind things my teenage self couldn’t handle. I kept my life on the straight and narrow, even building a career in law enforcement to make amends. Now my boss wants me back there, undercover. The cool, hipster carnival troupe I infiltrate is miles moved from the rough and tumble circus I grew up in but it has its own dangers: murder, mayhem and demonic forces. Grisly murders trail this troupe and make them prime suspects. I need to get hard evidence to build a case but, as emotions become entangled and old fears resurface, it’s time for a tough decision: embrace the powers I’ve rejected for the last ten years or let innocent people die.

30 review for Smoke, Mirrors and Demons

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This is a 3.5 star read. An very enjoyable read that I ended up marking down due to the cliffhanger ending - and I fecking hate those!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    I found this book to be interesting. Combining the wonderful circus world with the paranormal world is a unique idea. The series has so much potential. I will definitely be reading more to see where the author takes it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I found this book to be pretty good. I enjoyed the story line and only really wanted more in a few places. The action in it held me and the characters were good. I didn't want to be played for more details in other books. It is a bit of a teasing story across other titles. Such is the way of literature and book sales. I found this book to be pretty good. I enjoyed the story line and only really wanted more in a few places. The action in it held me and the characters were good. I didn't want to be played for more details in other books. It is a bit of a teasing story across other titles. Such is the way of literature and book sales.

  4. 4 out of 5

    S

    Had medium to high hopes for this book, it looked intriguing. Unfortunately my interest kept waning throughout the book and I kept reading other books in between. It just seemed to take forever to go nowhere. Jayne is a police officer tasked to go undercover to look into a carnival troupe to get evidence for some grisly murders that seem to be connected with them. This story is from Jayne’s POV and we spend a lot of time in her head. She does have some modern day references and some funny moments Had medium to high hopes for this book, it looked intriguing. Unfortunately my interest kept waning throughout the book and I kept reading other books in between. It just seemed to take forever to go nowhere. Jayne is a police officer tasked to go undercover to look into a carnival troupe to get evidence for some grisly murders that seem to be connected with them. This story is from Jayne’s POV and we spend a lot of time in her head. She does have some modern day references and some funny moments but most of it is a bit dull and dry. There is at least to me an almost monotone delivery to her internal dialogue and as such I had a mediocre connection to her. Now Lily looked like she would be a blast to get to know, equal parts vamp, big sister and frenemy. It seems that we only get to meet Lily, Nuno and Duke who is supposed to be a bit of a love interest for Jayne. Let’s just say not seeing it. Most of the time Duke was either giving Jayne exasperated looks or was being condescending. For some reason that made Jayne get all gushy…eye roll on my part. To make a show of this sort jaw dropping aren’t there usually other performers? I mean they must be super spectacular or the places they are visiting are so remote that a 4 person show is a thrill. Some more info about other members of the troupe would have been nice. We are given little tidbits along the way alluding to Jayne’s suppressed powers and we get to meet some nasty demons but it’s all smoke and mirrors with no real substance to any of it. Then more allusions to Lily, Nuno and Duke being more than they really appear to the normal person with special abilities with no explanations for any of it. After enduring the slow pacing and small morsels being thrown our way with bursts of demon attacks we are no closer to resolving the original reason Jayne went undercover in the first place. Which is going to put us into book two where they may or may not be a wrap up. It seems the standard now is to drag a book out ad nauseam without giving the reader any closure or at least resolution to one part of the storyline. The book didn’t have any major mistakes just the story was a bit like mist not quite a cloud and not quite a clear picture. I received an ARC from Hidden Gems for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Coco.V

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  6. 5 out of 5

    Dahrose

    This was a quick, entertaining read. Basically it is a story about Jayne, federal police officer - with a murky carnival backstory and mysterious magical powers she has locked away because they were attracting demons and evil and she didn't know how to deal. So we join Jayne as she's forced by her boss to try out for a small circus troupe who murder seems to follow around. But other than the dead Gretchen, who Jayne is replacing, there is little to no mention of these other so-called murders that This was a quick, entertaining read. Basically it is a story about Jayne, federal police officer - with a murky carnival backstory and mysterious magical powers she has locked away because they were attracting demons and evil and she didn't know how to deal. So we join Jayne as she's forced by her boss to try out for a small circus troupe who murder seems to follow around. But other than the dead Gretchen, who Jayne is replacing, there is little to no mention of these other so-called murders that may or may not be connected to the troupe. Which just struck me as piss poor policing. Jayne finds she is after a Demon, and that Demon is now after her blood which it needs to complete a mysterious ritual. So Jayne needs to confront her powers and her past (though we never really find out all that much information on her past) There are a little too many convenient factors in this story to give it a higher rating - plus there isn't even a glimmer of simmering romance on the horizon for our heroine. Seriously? I mean, I don't need her to hook up but some kind of attraction would have added more layers to plot that kind of ran thin. Like I said, readable, but I needed more layers story wise, and for Jayne to interact more with the other characters, she felt too closed off and I never really truly understood her motivations or backstory. Or for that matter the 3 characters she was investigating - she never even has a casual conversation with any of them. Nonsensical. The ending was a cliff hanger, which actually makes me not want to divest in book 2. And the whole Jayne sticking with the troupe? Again, that vastly stretched convenience factor - this just made no sense.

  7. 5 out of 5

    The Mysterious Reader

    Kat Cotton is one of my absolute favorite urban fantasy authors. Her Clem Starr character simply can’t be beat in the pantheon of great urban fantasy characters and I loved all the Clem Starr books, both main series and offshoots. No surprise then that I was so happy to get Smoke, Mirrors and Demons, which is the first in a new series, The Carnival Society. This book bears all the hallmarks of what makes this author so special. Superb lead and supporting characters? Check. Neat plot that’s not p Kat Cotton is one of my absolute favorite urban fantasy authors. Her Clem Starr character simply can’t be beat in the pantheon of great urban fantasy characters and I loved all the Clem Starr books, both main series and offshoots. No surprise then that I was so happy to get Smoke, Mirrors and Demons, which is the first in a new series, The Carnival Society. This book bears all the hallmarks of what makes this author so special. Superb lead and supporting characters? Check. Neat plot that’s not predictable? Check (c’mon, you gotta love the demons in a circus vibe). Top-notch writing? Check. The start of a cool overarching story arc? You betcha ... oops, I mean “Check”. It’s all here. I am not going to summarize this story as the publisher’s blurb gives all that’s needed, but I will simply note that following along as Jayne, the lead, develops into a pretty cool character was a total pleasure. But for the fact that I’m literally dictating this review my husband from my hospital bed I could go on and on with praises - the book definitely deserves it. Since I can’t do that I will simply note that the book is most definitely one to read, and it is easy to highly recommend. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn Dotson

    Kat has done it again! I received this book as a gift and am voluntarily leaving a review. The first book in a brand new series by Kat Cotton. Jayne is a cop, who has compulsions of OCD. She was adopted and does not know where she or her powers came from. She is a good cop and gets assigned to a case where victims are drained of their blood with no other clues. She joins a circus and believes a demon is behind the murders. Only one other person knows about the powers she has bound. The circus sh Kat has done it again! I received this book as a gift and am voluntarily leaving a review. The first book in a brand new series by Kat Cotton. Jayne is a cop, who has compulsions of OCD. She was adopted and does not know where she or her powers came from. She is a good cop and gets assigned to a case where victims are drained of their blood with no other clues. She joins a circus and believes a demon is behind the murders. Only one other person knows about the powers she has bound. The circus she joined, the people seem to have special powers themselves…but who is the killer? Duke? Lilly? Muno? In a race against time, Jayne will have to do the unexpected to help save everyone….come along for the ride!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Linda Levine

    Jayne is someone who keeps to herself and only trusts her foster father. She has powers that terrify her and wants to keep them hidden. It worked for many years until she starts to loose control on a assignment that hits too close to home. I thought it was a good storyline and it kept my interest. It is well written and has a storyline that makes you want to know more and keep reading on to find the answers. Jayne is the narrator and you see the other characters only from her point of view so it Jayne is someone who keeps to herself and only trusts her foster father. She has powers that terrify her and wants to keep them hidden. It worked for many years until she starts to loose control on a assignment that hits too close to home. I thought it was a good storyline and it kept my interest. It is well written and has a storyline that makes you want to know more and keep reading on to find the answers. Jayne is the narrator and you see the other characters only from her point of view so it is not as easy to grow close to them. I am hoping the next book gives more chances to learn about them as what you do learn indicates they have had very interesting lives. I am voluntarily reviewing a copy I received

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christinaraven

    What a great start to a new series. It stars Jayne who goes undercover at a small circus group that is in the middle of a murder investigation. The first chapter made me laugh out loud and the story just got better and better as it went as some of Jayne's past is dribbled out in between her interactions with her suspects. A lot of the story takes place in Jaynes mind but it really made me laugh. I loved the mix of police investigation and the paranormal. It was a riot and kept me reading in one What a great start to a new series. It stars Jayne who goes undercover at a small circus group that is in the middle of a murder investigation. The first chapter made me laugh out loud and the story just got better and better as it went as some of Jayne's past is dribbled out in between her interactions with her suspects. A lot of the story takes place in Jaynes mind but it really made me laugh. I loved the mix of police investigation and the paranormal. It was a riot and kept me reading in one sitting to see what Jayne would do or think next. The ending was great for this story and a great setup for the series as I loved Jayne and cannot wait to see what happens next. It mixed laughter and paranormal together in a great story that was entertaining and clean.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    Circus acts and paranormal activity, who could ask for more? Okay, so who doesn't like a circus act? This story goes behind the circus act. Jayne is a girl who grew up around the circus but she wanted to be normal. She lived on the streets for a while until a cop became her foster dad. She admired him so much she chose to become a cop. He told her to join on the federal level. After 10 years of being away from the circus life her boss has given her an undercover assignment to join a troupe that s Circus acts and paranormal activity, who could ask for more? Okay, so who doesn't like a circus act? This story goes behind the circus act. Jayne is a girl who grew up around the circus but she wanted to be normal. She lived on the streets for a while until a cop became her foster dad. She admired him so much she chose to become a cop. He told her to join on the federal level. After 10 years of being away from the circus life her boss has given her an undercover assignment to join a troupe that seems to have bad luck with the towns they perform in. She has never revealed her past to her boss and he doesn't know why she doesn't want the assignment. This is a must read to find out about her past and if she can pull the assignment off.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Disney

    Loved it! An undercover cop surrounded by demons and magic and circus acts? That sounds pretty awesome to me. I received an ARC of this book and I’d really like to purchase the actual thing now that I’ve read it! There were moments where the wording could be better but the overall story was well-written. The plot grabbed hold of me from the beginning and I couldn’t wait to see where Jayne would be next. I’m still really curious about the extent of Jayne’s powers or where the came from but maybe th Loved it! An undercover cop surrounded by demons and magic and circus acts? That sounds pretty awesome to me. I received an ARC of this book and I’d really like to purchase the actual thing now that I’ve read it! There were moments where the wording could be better but the overall story was well-written. The plot grabbed hold of me from the beginning and I couldn’t wait to see where Jayne would be next. I’m still really curious about the extent of Jayne’s powers or where the came from but maybe that will be covered in the next book? Whatever happens, this was a great book and I’d love to read the sequel. :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Christine Karmelreads2665 W.

    High Rolling Act The start of a new series and the characters are really different. You will meet Lilly, Nuno, Duke, Buzz and Jayne. If you ever thought about running away to the circus...stop and read this book first. Jayne is a cop with a past and her life is getting ready to change but the question is will it be for better or worse? Jaynes past will come back to help her in her current job but it is not something she wants to use. If the story seems a little slow in the beginning stick with it as High Rolling Act The start of a new series and the characters are really different. You will meet Lilly, Nuno, Duke, Buzz and Jayne. If you ever thought about running away to the circus...stop and read this book first. Jayne is a cop with a past and her life is getting ready to change but the question is will it be for better or worse? Jaynes past will come back to help her in her current job but it is not something she wants to use. If the story seems a little slow in the beginning stick with it as the author is taking time to build the base story line and let me tell you it is necessary.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Miranda

    I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I want sure how much I would enjoy this book but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very good book and kept me reading and trying to guess what was going on. I'm very curious as to what Lily, Nuno, and Duke are. What is Jayne herself. Or any of the other characters in this book?! It leaves lots of questions that make you want to read the next in the series but don't detract from the book itself. Circus shows, mysterious m I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I want sure how much I would enjoy this book but I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very good book and kept me reading and trying to guess what was going on. I'm very curious as to what Lily, Nuno, and Duke are. What is Jayne herself. Or any of the other characters in this book?! It leaves lots of questions that make you want to read the next in the series but don't detract from the book itself. Circus shows, mysterious murders, demons, and a bunch of unknown characters.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Caroline Doig

    I was looking forward to reading this book and I’m so glad I did, now who doesn’t like circus’s with mystery and murder?. Sorry guys I’m not going to give any spoilers so read Kat’s blurb and that will give you the gist to this story, there’s murder, mystery, suspense, danger and so much more to keep you entertained and turning the pages. I really enjoyed reading this story and I know that you will too and I can’t wait to read the next book. A great read and I recommend this book it’s well worth I was looking forward to reading this book and I’m so glad I did, now who doesn’t like circus’s with mystery and murder?. Sorry guys I’m not going to give any spoilers so read Kat’s blurb and that will give you the gist to this story, there’s murder, mystery, suspense, danger and so much more to keep you entertained and turning the pages. I really enjoyed reading this story and I know that you will too and I can’t wait to read the next book. A great read and I recommend this book it’s well worth the read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Awesome!! Kat Cotton has created a unique story with great three dimensional characters. I love the circus setting with a supernatural twist. The story is from Jayne's point of view and we find our self emotionally involved with Jayne. There is plenty of action and danger. We are left with lots of questions making the next in series a must. Am anxious for it to arrive. Need to know what happens next. I highly recommend this story. Received a copy from Hidden Gems and this is my voluntary and hon Awesome!! Kat Cotton has created a unique story with great three dimensional characters. I love the circus setting with a supernatural twist. The story is from Jayne's point of view and we find our self emotionally involved with Jayne. There is plenty of action and danger. We are left with lots of questions making the next in series a must. Am anxious for it to arrive. Need to know what happens next. I highly recommend this story. Received a copy from Hidden Gems and this is my voluntary and honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    First let me state, I received an Advance Reader Copy, (ARC), but this in no way influences my review. I always leave an honest review. Also this author is new to me. Holy shiznet this story was amazing. Jayne has some really bad hangups but considering what she has done and can do, I don't blame her. I can't wait to read the next book to find out more about her and Duke, like what are his powers, or Lily, what is she, or even Nuno, with that freaky scream. I recommend this read 5 Thumbs up First let me state, I received an Advance Reader Copy, (ARC), but this in no way influences my review. I always leave an honest review. Also this author is new to me. Holy shiznet this story was amazing. Jayne has some really bad hangups but considering what she has done and can do, I don't blame her. I can't wait to read the next book to find out more about her and Duke, like what are his powers, or Lily, what is she, or even Nuno, with that freaky scream. I recommend this read 5 Thumbs up

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ann O'Nymos

    I just don't like the tone of the author. I tried Clam Starr and gave up and I'm about to dnf this one too. I'm not prude but I keep swearing to stressful situations. First page in, quote: "made me want to shit myself". Two paragraphs down: "pissed him of the most". Unnecessary proletarian language. Am I just a snob? It's such a shame because the main character sounds interesting, I like how she battles with herself to not show off her acrobatic skills but can't help herself when she gets provoke I just don't like the tone of the author. I tried Clam Starr and gave up and I'm about to dnf this one too. I'm not prude but I keep swearing to stressful situations. First page in, quote: "made me want to shit myself". Two paragraphs down: "pissed him of the most". Unnecessary proletarian language. Am I just a snob? It's such a shame because the main character sounds interesting, I like how she battles with herself to not show off her acrobatic skills but can't help herself when she gets provoked.. Well, now she has to live with the consequences...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Chris Godwin

    I received a free copy of this book and the review is voluntary. Now that the disclaimer's out of the way, on with the actual review. This was probably my favorite book so far this year. Kat's characters feel like real people, where she gives you just enough to keep you interested with hints of deeper depths yet to come. The pacing and action pull you in and keep you turning pages right up until the end. A rare find, that will leave you anticipating the next book in the series. I received a free copy of this book and the review is voluntary. Now that the disclaimer's out of the way, on with the actual review. This was probably my favorite book so far this year. Kat's characters feel like real people, where she gives you just enough to keep you interested with hints of deeper depths yet to come. The pacing and action pull you in and keep you turning pages right up until the end. A rare find, that will leave you anticipating the next book in the series.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Walkden-Brown

    A series worth checking out. Very enjoyable urban fantasy. Three-dimensional characters, an atypical setting and the beginning of an intriguing series. Refreshing that the author didn't follow the typical overused tropes that are far too common in the genre. A lot of questions yet to be answered and Jayne's background still a little blurred, but I'm hoping these will be addressed in future titles in the series. I received an eARC of this book and chose to write a review. A series worth checking out. Very enjoyable urban fantasy. Three-dimensional characters, an atypical setting and the beginning of an intriguing series. Refreshing that the author didn't follow the typical overused tropes that are far too common in the genre. A lot of questions yet to be answered and Jayne's background still a little blurred, but I'm hoping these will be addressed in future titles in the series. I received an eARC of this book and chose to write a review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Ten years have passed and Jayne is now working for federal law enforcement. She is assigned to investigate the strange death of a woman who was a member of a small troop of entertainers. She strongly resists this due to her past history living in a carnival. Her conscience finally prevails and she auditions as an acrobat. Once again she finds herself in the company of people with paranormal abilities. She is befriended by them and they help her vanquish the demon who had killed the former troop Ten years have passed and Jayne is now working for federal law enforcement. She is assigned to investigate the strange death of a woman who was a member of a small troop of entertainers. She strongly resists this due to her past history living in a carnival. Her conscience finally prevails and she auditions as an acrobat. Once again she finds herself in the company of people with paranormal abilities. She is befriended by them and they help her vanquish the demon who had killed the former troop member.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liza

    I don't think that I've read a paranormal based in Australia. [A different book started in Aus but quickly moved to Europe.] Most of the major cities have festivals and so it's possible that such a small group would be able to move from to city to city. An unusual group of characters performing circus type acts - but there are deaths around the group. The federal cops get involved due to travelling nature of the group. Entertaining story. I don't think that I've read a paranormal based in Australia. [A different book started in Aus but quickly moved to Europe.] Most of the major cities have festivals and so it's possible that such a small group would be able to move from to city to city. An unusual group of characters performing circus type acts - but there are deaths around the group. The federal cops get involved due to travelling nature of the group. Entertaining story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Smith

    An abundance of magic and demons to boot A bloodthirsty demon is after Jayne. Can she defeat him? This book takes plain Jayne and allows her to transform into so much more. I like the way Jayne develops along with the story line and I like getting a glimpse into her childhood along with her. It’s kind of like hitching a ride in her mind . . .

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angie ☯

    3.5 stars This was an intriguing premise - the circus paired with the paranormal. Be honest, how many of us paranormal readers haven't always thought there was an element of the paranormal intertwined with the circus! :-) I liked the characters and the story-line, but I hate cliff-hangers that literally stop in the middle of a thought or sentence.... I will continue the series. 3.5 stars This was an intriguing premise - the circus paired with the paranormal. Be honest, how many of us paranormal readers haven't always thought there was an element of the paranormal intertwined with the circus! :-) I liked the characters and the story-line, but I hate cliff-hangers that literally stop in the middle of a thought or sentence.... I will continue the series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    What a fantastic start to the series! Jayne has closed herself off and shies away from any type of relationship. But she will have to confront her memories and embrace her talents fully. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I was gifted an ARC in return of an honest review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Suzy Ostapower

    I really enjoyed this book This book has a great premise and plot line. The only true criticism I have is there quite a few spelling mistakes that were somehow missed in editing. Honestly though, the story is so good I read past them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jojo

    A different start! This is a bit dark but it held me from beginning to the end. The circus is like it's own secret society and I think Kat Cotton does a wonderful job portraying Jayne. A different start! This is a bit dark but it held me from beginning to the end. The circus is like it's own secret society and I think Kat Cotton does a wonderful job portraying Jayne.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    An excellent story Definitely a must read. Smoke and mirrors really gets the ball rolling on this story. Circus life isn't for everyone but Jayne has an advantage beings that she done it before. If she can get passed all the memories. An excellent story Definitely a must read. Smoke and mirrors really gets the ball rolling on this story. Circus life isn't for everyone but Jayne has an advantage beings that she done it before. If she can get passed all the memories.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    Different and really enjoyable! Can’t wait to read book 2! I’m super invested in this mystery now. I do feel like a few puzzle pieces where dropped. What happened to the wimpy boxer dude? Why did George just sit there during the finale? Etc etc

  30. 5 out of 5

    Natasha du Plessis

    This was the first book by Kat Cotton that I have read. I am a big fantasy lover and really enjoyed this book, something different from the usual fantasy books that I read. I look forward to reading more books by Kat Cotton.

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