Review: Living on Air by Susan Mac Nicol

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There’s a reason this celebrated aerialist uses red in his performance…

An anguished soul meets his redeemer in a brilliant five-star novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s novel LIVING ON AIR, the raw and realistic story of a circus performer and a cameraman. The characters, all of them, are finely drawn. Circus Diva Greta and her husband Julien, along with white-face clown Marco, lead a splendid supporting cast. None are more believable and relatable than the tortured aerialist Cary and photographer Rhys, the man whom he first reviles and then comes to need even more than the thin air he performs in and breathes.

Susan Mac Nicol always dares to be different. Cary Stilwell is one of the most intriguing and sympathetic characters I’ve ever encountered. His story is one of anguish, of pain both inflicted and self inflicted; and finally of redemption and release from intolerable psychic pain. If this sounds damn serious, it is. And yet the novel also has many moments of comic relief, sexual tension, and even welcome release. 

I’ve learned that Mac Nicol lived for a while in a circus in order to give realism to her novel. Her preparation shows! A reader breathes the atmosphere, thrills to the performers, feels the familial bonds, laughs and weeps with the characters. I’m sure she also steeped herself in the psychosis of self-harm, a mental disorder most people are only dimly aware of. Cary’s mental state is unbearable in its sadness. Instead of having Cary miraculously “cured by love,” Mac Nicol takes a more pragmatic approach and shows us the almost intolerable despair before bringing us back from the edge.

Just brilliant. The writing, the plot arc, the odyssey of the characters… In my opinion, this is one of the finest novels I’ve read in the gay romance genre. 

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Intrigued by this writer? Find an interview with her in the blog posts listed on the side panel —>

5 purp stars

A five-star winner!

The book is here:

My reviews are here:


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