cover image Carniepunk


Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, et al. S&S/Gallery, $16 trade paper

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.)