I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?
And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.
Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed, Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.
I read this book to fill the Creepy Carnivals square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.
I seem to be developing more of a taste for short fiction, especially in this dark fantasy category. I enjoyed the offerings by the well-known authors (Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire) but actually found some of the stories by folks that I didn’t know to be more engaging. These people have to try harder, they can’t rely on well-trodden paths with familiar characters and situations. I think I’ll be checking out more fiction by Rob Thurman, for example, who got cover billing (and so must enjoy some notoriety) but whose work I had never encountered before. I’m also eyeing a book by Jaye Wells (Cursed Moon), maybe for Halloween Bingo next year.
It was fun to dip into several people’s versions of the creepy carnival, rather than cope with one author’s vision for 440 pages. It’s not like I need to expand my reading list at this point, but if you are struggling to find new authors that you enjoy, I would recommend an anthology like this one on a subject that intrigues you—you are bound to find someone whose work you enjoy.