cover image Carniepunk


Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, et al. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper (448p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1415-8

Paranormals of varying temperaments and dispositions amp up the mystery and magic intrinsic to carnival midways in this anthology of 14 new stories, some of which extend their authors’ long-running urban fantasy series. In Kelly Medding’s clever “Freak House,” the daughter of a gypsy and a djinn schemes to liberate her captive father from an unscrupulous sideshow owner. Rachel Caine’s poignant “The Cold Girl” unfolds at a carnival whose resident vampire gives a dying murder victim a new lease on (un)life and an opportunity to revenge herself on her attacker. In Alison Pang’s “A Duet with Darkness,” a mortal musician puts her soul in pawn to a fey violinist when she borrows his enchanted instrument to perform at a carnival music show. In several selections, such as Mark Henry’s “The Sweeter the Juice,” the carnival setting seems more an underdeveloped afterthought than a crucial story element. Regardless, the alternating currents of horror and fantasy that course through this volume ensure that readers of several genre tastes will find stories to their liking. (Aug.)