“INZARED: QUEEN OF THE ELEPHANT RIDERS”
by L. Leander
REVIEWED BY: Ellen Fritz
Bertha Maude Anderson has no inkling of how famous she will become. She lives in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina in the year 1843. Her world changes forever when she is enticed to join The Romanoff Brothers Circus and her name is changed to INZARED, Queen of the Elephant Riders. Inzared discovers her true calling while learning to live with the nomadic Gypsies. From the hatred shown by some of the performers to the love she finds along the way, Inzared finds herself immersed in the rich folklore and customs of the misunderstood people who call the circus their home. Her one constant is Cecil, the elephant, and together they form a bond that no one can break as Inzared finds herself lured into the world of the Gypsies while clinging to her own roots and trying to break free of the chains that keep her from her destiny.
As I love animals and am fascinated by circus life, reading “Inzared: Queen of the Elephant Riders” was a very special treat for me. When Bertha meets Paytre and his Elephant, Cecil, it is love at first sight for both the boy and the elephant. Roped in to act as stand in for the indisposed elephant rider, Bertha - now renamed Inzared - feels that she could make the circus her life. She is a hillbilly, not afraid of hard work and tough enough to fit in with the Gypsies. There is a traitor in their midst however. Equipment is damaged, perfectly trained and trustworthy animals act up and people are getting hurt. Despite all this, Vadoma, the fortune teller and psychic, feels that Inzared has more to offer than doing tricks on the back of an elephant.
This book gave me a very good idea of what circus life in the nineteenth century must have been like. Apart from the sabotage that seems to be going on in this circus, they must still cope with the dangers and mishaps that can happen during performances or on the long road between towns. Fording rivers with heavily laden wagons and panicking horses, crossing rugged mountains and tending their own sick animals and people, are just some of the hardships described in this story.
The comfortable pace of the story gave me time to acquaint myself thoroughly with the numerous colorful characters. Incidents of sabotage and other mishaps are cleverly spaced throughout the story so that I never knew when and where disaster would strike next. This suspenseful atmosphere is masterfully balanced by the romantic relationship between the main characters. Extremely interesting Gypsy beliefs, customs and ceremonies are described throughout the book. As this is a very realistic story, I must warn that you would probably need a box of kleenex on your journey with the Romanoff Brothers Circus.
The first person narration in which “Inzared: Queen of the Elephant Riders” is written is completely unique and reflects just how a farm girl in 1843 might have thought. I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages and hope that we'll soon see more equally brilliant books from this gifted author.
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