Alyssa reviews The Lion’s Circle by Amelia Ellis

The Lion’s Circle, the first in the Nea Fox series by Amelia Ellis, is a detective novel, set in England, about a private investigator who faces down a dangerous, misogynistic cult with the help of various random players who join her in the action.

As I slogged through the epilogue chapters, I kept thinking about how I would critique this book as an unfinished work, which is not a good sign. On the plus side, I will say I was entertained during the more active scenes, was interested in Nea as a character, and found the plot to be solid enough. However, the pacing leaves something to be desired. I’d say a good third of the book is filled up with details about Nea’s environment, meals, friends, and daily activities, which are irrelevant to the plot and far too numerous to make for concise characterisation. In lieu of strong foreshadowing, I was pushed forward by my interest in the woman-woman relationship, which turned out to be an insignificant element of the plot. The lesbian/bisexual plot occurs in the background: it enters at the beginning, gets us interested in the blossoming relationship between the narrator (who it sounds like has never been with a woman before) and a somewhat mysterious woman. This plot then disappears under the rest of the story, only returning for a hinted continuation in the final chapters, save for a few thoughts by the narrator that remind us she has recently become infatuated. During a lull in the action, the narrator works and works up to telling her best friend about the woman she has met, and then the actual conversation is anticlimactically skipped, cutting us off from possible insight about the conflicted feelings Nea may or may not be having.

As a side note, while the story hints at supernatural elements, mundane explanations are eventually given for these. I’m still not convinced there aren’t any supernatural elements—it is strongly hinted that there is something up with Nea’s love interest and with a piece of her jewelry, although that could just be for the ambience of mystery—and I hope, too, that their relationship is explored in more depth in the sequels.



– Lesbians: a bit. Main character is bi- or pansexual (she hasn’t labeled herself.)

– Racial diversity: pretty white. India is mentioned as the source of the white men’s cult.

– Chekhov’s gun: you won’t see it again.

Overall, I wouldn’t recommend The Lion’s Circle unless you have a particular interest in the detective genre. I’m going to read further into the series; perhaps that will change my opinion.

2 Replies to “Alyssa reviews The Lion’s Circle by Amelia Ellis”

  1. Sara

    I like the nea fox series, _impatiently_ awaiting book5, but b1 is not that great. Nea falls in love with a seasoned lesbian and that doesn’t work out all that well for her; CO isn’t easy for any of us. B2 is a nice cozy (love marlee and her house) but a bit too tame for my taste; it’s nea’s phase of confusion. The series really gets going with b3. Nea’s sorted things out and is a lesbian from chapter 1, the story is dark and edgy and there’s a lot of hot interesting s*x. Noche des hermanas anyone? 😉 Book 4 is even darker and more serious in tone; cool story about retribution and Nea’s first serious lez relationship. So book3 and 4 are awesome (and hopefully b5), book2 is important to know about characters and other stuff, but b1 could be skipped if you’re in a rush to get to 3 and 4. Oh!!->some of chekhov’s guns are hanging on the wall for a loooooooong time in this series! The significance of the amulet nea finds in b2 is not revealed until the end of b3 (!!), the street performer in b3 is _very_ important in b4, lilian of b2 plays an important role in b3 …… and: I’m ABSOLUTELY SURE callum will return! He’s got a purpose in b4, but the whole thing is obviously preparation for bigger things to come! (just hope it’s not harry dying) Leo’s a black guy who’s in every book (not 100 percent sure about b4), navajo native americans in b2 and lots of asian people in b4.

    1. Alyssa

      Thanks for the info, Sara—I reviewed book 2 in May, and definitely found it an improvement, but I haven’t read past that yet. I think I ought to.