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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Bernado’s Circus is a work of fiction in the drama and historical fiction subgenres. It is best suited to the mature reading audience owing to graphic scenes of sex and violence, as well as dark themes such as abuse and murder, and was penned by author James A Calderwood. The plot follows the titular character Bernado through the trials of his early life during the Second World War, filled with much trauma and bloodshed, and his formative years as he grows up and joins a circus. What results is a tale of lost loves, hardships, and sustaining hope alongside a varied and exciting ensemble cast of characters in one man’s life story.
Fans of memoir-style writing are sure to adore this tale, and it is told with such realism and emotional sensitivity that you can easily drift into believing every moment of Bernado’s experience, despite the bizarre and exciting twists that his life takes. Author James A Calderwood pulls no punches in delivering the bleak realism of the wartime and post-war years through the 1940s onward, and though there are some extreme moments in the plot (both of extreme pleasure and extreme pain), on balance, the work has plenty of more poignant and sedate moments to keep the narrative on an equilibrium. As such, it makes Bernado’s Circus an immensely enjoyable read that is constantly filled with surprises. I would not hesitate to recommend it to readers seeking high drama, unique narrative viewpoints, and tales of triumph over extreme adversity.