By Molly E. Johnson
Raintown Press, $16.95, 303 pages

When Spartacus’s mom leaves town to join the circus, his father, brother and almost everyone in town accepts her absence — but not Spartacus. With the online help of his nerdy, techno-wizard friend Eli, Spartacus hits the road to save his mom from her kidnappers – Bartholomew and his World-Renowned Circus of the Incredible. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters, each more outlandish than the last. From the giant tattooed biker to the blue-haired criminal maniacs, Molly E. Johnson captures a colorful group through vivid description and unique voices.

Spartacus’s travels will scare him, stress him, delight him, but mostly they will push him to become more than he ever thought possible. Along the way Spartacus may not be certain of much, but by the end he finds the meaning of family and friendship and love. You’ll be rooting for Spartacus throughout this tight, quick-paced tale.

Spartacus and the Circus of Shadows is a funny, smart adventure story that will appeal to middle-grade readers and beyond.

Reviewed by Lisa Ard

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