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Carniepunk Paperback – July 23, 2013
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While quite a lot of this collection relies on standard horror tropes, each of the stories tends to use them well enough to keep things interesting. From the opening tale, Painted Love to Seanan McGuire’s haunting Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea, the promise of magic, illusion, and adventure on the midways of various traveling carnivals is conveyed vividly and with striking detail. While not all of the stories necessarily do anything to illuminate the human condition (with a few exceptions, which manage nicely to illustrate the pains of not belonging and of pretending to be something you’re not), they’re all interesting pieces of narrative and entertaining in their many, varied ways. And of course, there are a few good, solid action stories in among the more psychological horror. A few of them, including Delilah S. Dawson’s The Three Lives of Lydia and Nicole Peeler’s The Inside Man, are also effective teasers for their authors’ novels. --Regina Schroeder
About the Author
Rachel Caine is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series, the Weather Warden series, the Outcast Season series, and the new Revivalist series. Jennifer Estep is the New York Times bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books and also writes the Mythos Academy young adult series. Kevin Hearne is the New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Druid series. Seanan McGuire is the New York Times bestselling author of the InCryptid series and the October Daye series, which earned her the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2010. Feed, published under the pseudonym Mira Grant, earned her a Hugo Award nomination for Best Novel in 2011. Rob Thurman is the New York Times bestselling author of the supernatural thriller All Seeing Eye, the gritty urban fantasy Cal Leandros series, the Trickster Novels, and standalone thriller-suspense novels.
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Top customer reviews
The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne - a story featuring the characters and world of the Iron Druid series, this one was full of action and I loved the ending.
The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine - a story of a teen girl in a relationship with the wrong boy with tragic results, but the ending was fantastic. I'm always a sucker for a well-deserved revenge.
A Duet With Darkness by Allison Pang - I wish I had read this story before I read A Sliver of Shadow because it features some of the characters that appeared in that book and explains their relationships. It features the violinist Melanie St James and was set in the world of the Abby Sinclair books.
Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep - a short story featuring Gin Blanco from her Elemental Assassin series which is one of my favorite series, so of course I adored it. It involved Gin and her sister Bria attending a carnival while looking for a missing girl. I loved the way Gin and Bria worked together to defeat the villains.
Freak House by Kelly Meding - this one was not set in the world I'm most familiar with, the Dreg City novels. I quickly came to love Shiloh the half-djinn, and the rest of the cast of characters involved in rescuing her father from a high dollar paranormal show run by a dark sorcerer. I hope Kelly has a chance to develop this cast of characters into at least a full length book or even a new series. I'd certainly be eager to read it.
Hell's Menagerie by Kelly Gay - set in the Charlie Madigan world, involving her daughter Emma, the hellhound Brimstone and Rex. They're out to rescue Brim's puppies and their mother from a hellish carnival in Charbydon, an activity which Emma's mother Charlie would definitely not approve of, with exciting action and results that show Emma is growing up to be a force to be reckoned with.
I typically enjoy short story collections. They are usually both a bigger bang for my buck, and more importantly, lead me to new authors I might not otherwise have found. This book was different though. There were a few that I truly enjoyed (enough to have downloaded a book from) but too many stories that just put me to sleep. Literally. I think perhaps it was because several of the authors wrote stories that put me down in the middle of one of their book series. Like being invited to a party where you are the only person who doesn't know everyone else, I found it difficult at times not to be put off by private jokes and behavior that takes it for granted that I already know what's what.
My favorite story was Seanan McGuire's tale about a young woman raised in the carnival from birth. It was one of the best mermaid stories I've ever read. I truly enjoyed the way the author made both autumn and the carnival come to life, especially given the small number of pages she had to achieve it.
Overall, I came away with five new authors to try out. Not a bad haul...
Painted Love -4/5 stars- A really old "guy" likes to blend in attach himself to another so he can observe life without interfering. Until he FINALLY has an interest in someone.
The Three Lives of Lydia -5/5 stars- Waking up in a different crazy world, wouldnt that be crazy?? Loved the crazy ending!
The Wherewife -4/5 stars- Told from the husbands perspective about his wife as a wherewolf and all the negative stuff he has to deal with as a husband.
The Cold Girl -5/5 stars- A young girl who loves her unkind boyfriend too much. The things she learns about him at a carnival. Awesome ending.
Freak House -5/5 stars- A half jinn women trying to rescue her father. This will be a very good series.
Hells Menagerie -4.5/5 stars- A young girl and her sort of dad and her hell hound are on an adventure to rescue the hellhounds pups.
Daughter of the Midway... -5/5 stars- A young mermaid girl traveling with a carnival ends up in a not so nice town. The only story where the carnival is the good guys and the ppl r the bad guys.
The Demon Barker of Wheat Street -3/5 stars- An elementalist his assistant and his dog (who he can talk too) go to a carnival where he doesnt have his full power and get more than whats expected. Part of a series that i hope is better than this short, which is just kind of blah...
The Sweeter The Juice -3.5/5 stars- The story of a transgender women who is trying to finish his/her change into a women in a zombie world. This story is a bit weird for the sake of weirdness. I kinda liked it looking back though.
Parlor Tricks -3.5 stars- 2 sisters go to a carnival in a crooked town searching for a missing girl (a pretty girl) and maybe one of them might be the next target? Don't worry they both yield magic.
The Inside Man -3.5/5 stars- 3 dark skinned powerful ladies are on a mission to find out what is wrong with the boss' sister and her family. His family and the town they are from are all acting like zombies and it is up to them to stop a certain clown.
The not so good:
A Duet with Darkness -2.5/5 stars- I would have given this story a 3 if it had an ending. This author didnt write a short story she wrote a hook to get you to read her series. The idea of the series is a little weird. Girl plays violin and is conceded about it and plays a little worse than she should so she wont make her band look bad. WHy? bc her man (also in band) tell her too. This chick is hard to like.
Recession of the Devine -2.5/5 stars- A greek god taking a break from being her godly self and is working as a human and her job ends her up at a carnival where there are some other gods/killers. The only reason i didn't give this one 2 stars is bc it had a nice ending. Mostly, it was boring.
A Chance in Hell -2/5 stars- Too much sexual content, if that's for you then here you go. Succubus turned human trying to keep her and her freinds souls and just be human. Except every demon is trying to corrupt ppl including her. They go to a carnival so she can try to be normal and that doesn't work out the way they want it too.