I recently turned on an old Kindle of mine, one that I thought was long dead after I had left it out on my deck through a long rain storm – and indeed it was dead, for quite some time. But after sitting in a bag of uncooked rice for a few months and then sitting un-used for a year or so after that, it seems to have returned to function with only a few strange hiccups along the way. And on that Kindle are a few older books that I had for review. This is one of those books.
This was really a delightful collection of strange, sometimes horrific, sometimes fantastic fiction tied (sometimes loosely) to a carnival theme.
A carnival is a natural setting to suspend one’s belief and so it makes sense to have stories of the fantastic and fantasy take place here. All of the stories were solid, enjoyable reads but three stood out as exemplary.
Allison Pang’s “A Duet with Darkness” feels really familiar as you’re reading it, but it might not be until the end that you realize Pang has written the story to go along with a popular idiom. I was caught up in the story early because of the music theme (a well-written story featuring music will almost always hold my attention) and this was the first story to really stand out.
“Freak House” by Kelly Meding struck me as one of the most original genre stories I’ve read in a long time. A young woman is looking for her father, a djinn, but she must navigate through a slew of other-worldly creatures and release him from his imprisonment – no small feat, even if you do have powers.
Jackie Kessler’s “A Chance in Hell” is not for the timid (though none of these stories are) and is full – FULL – of raw, underworldly sex. But when a story features a succubus named Jezebel, what else would you expect?
This really is a great collection and I see that there are other Carniepunk anthologies available and I am very interested in reading the others, too.
This anthology features the following:
“Painted Love” – Rob Thurman
“The Three Lives of Lydia” – Delilah S. Dawson
“The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” – Kevin Hearne
“The Sweeter the Juice” – Mark Henry
“The Werewife” – Jaye Wells
“The Cold Girl” – Rachel Caine
“A Duet with Darkness” – Allison Pang
“Recession of the Divine” – Hillary Jacques
“Parlor Tricks” – Jennifer Estep
“Freak House” – Kelly Meding
“The Inside Man” – Nicole Peeler
“A Chance in Hell” – Jackie Kessler
“Hell’s Menagerie” Kelly Gay
“Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea” – Seanan McGuire
Looking for a good book? Carniepunk is an anthology of fantastic stories surrounding a carnival theme and anyone interested in the fantasy/horror/speculative fiction genres should enjoy this.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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publisher: Gallery Books
paperback, 440 pages