A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington – Book Review

Title: A Girl Made of Air

Author: Nydia Hetherington

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Quercus

Publication Date: 3rd September 2020

Rating: 4.5/5



This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?


This is a book I have been looking forward to reading for a while, in part because of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous cover design and it absolutely did not disappoint. The story follows a young circus performer who finds her home as a tightrope walker. We never learn her real name, she is known to the reader and everyone else only as Mouse, and we join her on her strange, gritty yet ethereal journey through life. As an adult she desperately seeks a child she has a strong connection to who was lost from the circus in which Mouse grew up.

The first thing I have to say about A Girl Made of Air is that it is beautifully written. Hetherington knows exactly how to weave a magical, dark and often slightly bizarre tale which will entrance the reader completely. The book is filled with lovely lyrical prose and a kind of magical melancholy which I found really enjoyable to read. I kind of gently made my way through this story and fell in love with the beautifully odd characters. There are so many fascinating personalities in A Girl Made of Air, my favourite is possibly the brilliantly named Serendipity Wilson, Mouse’s mentor who is one of the most important people in her life and who dances off the pages in such a charming and sometimes frightening way. In all honestly, though, there are so many fantastic characters and tall tales that Mouse encounters which make for an engaging and incredibly original story.

The circus has a magical dark glamour to it whilst at the same time being an often coarse and gritty place to spend your life. It always fascinates people and it is evoked in such a skilful and compelling way in A Girl Made of Air that I completely understand the hype with this book. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a fantastical and strange read filled with both sadness and beauty. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next book from this talented author.


I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own, entirely honest opinion.

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