Let’s Run Off to the Carnival…Or Maybe Not (CarniePunk – A Bool Review)


Author: Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, and many more

Published: 2013

On Goodreads

My Rating:

Rated C for carnivals of cruel and depraved natures where you don’t want to be left be at. Or, do you?

Step right up….

To a world of

Dark illuision!

A star-studded anthology featuring authors of urban fantasy that we love and their tales of dark, mysterious, yet alluring and fantastical carnivals. They’ll pull you in and sometimes they won’t let you go. Traditionally a place to get lost in and find yourself surrounded in illusion of many forms from greasy food to tricking you into overpaying to play their games to being dragged under by their house of freaks. One can’t get pulled under too far or they may disappear under the big top forever.

From a naive teen discovering her heart has led her astray and she is given a rare opportunity to a husband trying to decide whether to continue being walked all over by his werewolf wife or run away with the carnival passing through town. And of course, we can’t forget the fortune tellers, mermaids, and dead…killer…clowns. Get lost in these timeless tales of a bizarre world of sleight of hand and real magic. Both amazing and frightening, you won’t be able to look away.

Anthologies can be hit or miss. It truly depends on the subject that the stories/myths/tales surrounds, and in some cases, the authors involved. This collection was not a disappointment. Not in the slightest. I fell right into the book and didn’t want to leave. I enjoy fairs and carnivals and amusement parks and with the pandemic shutting all of these down, this book really took me to the carnival and each time was exciting and enthralling.

There were a few stories I enjoyed far more than others. That always happens. Rachel Caine’s, The Cold Girl was an episode of Unsolved Mysteries and I loved it so much. Author of The Morganville Vampires, she came at the traditional mythos from yet another angle and I loved it. Soul and spirit taking revenge and clinging to life. Truly haunting. And A Duet With Darkness? Utterly spellbinding and nerve-wracking a violinist really took the violin of the Devil himself and paid unexpected consequences for it. A real throwdown to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by The Charlie Daniels Band. The touch on fae lore in it was lush and beautiful against the haggard illusion of the carnival. Then there was A Chance In Hell where toying with Demons proved to test the will of an ex succubus and her learning how to be human in order to save the world. A real strong Chosen One vibe and I wasn’t complaining. The lust and will power on the pages of this story was amazing and had me sucked in. These are only the top few. They all held something that made me love them.

Now, if I had a problem it’s with the one thing that gives me heebie-jeebies. LOL. And just about as much as it did for the main character of The Inside Man. That’s right. Killer fecking clowns. Like whyyyyyy? Cue my whimpers and whines of terror.

Each story was phenomenally written. Boundaries were non-existent and the stories left me feeling all kinds of ways I didn’t expect. The carnival is that magical place every kid and/or wants to run away to. This collection gives you so many more reasons to want to and not want to. First off, the magic, delight, the feeling of belonging somewhere, the wild nightlife. Then again, there’s the horror, dark secrets, and…k-killer clowns.


Really did get lost in this one. Giving way to a darkness filled with a terrifying splendor that, in a way, doesn’t feel terrifying at all. Call me weird, but this is just a getaway for me. Each story had a paranormal-horror twist but I’d still jump into each and every one. This was a fun and crazy read. Definitely recommend it.


“Love is a bitch. There’s no getting around it. But I’ll get to that later…” (Painted Love, p.1.)

“If you’ve ever read any book, seen any movie, heard any carnie tale, you know carousels are where the very best and worst things happen.” (Painted Love, p. 3)

“It wouldn’t be me, this time.” (The Cold Girl, p. 187)

“The Wild Magic pulls at me, beckoning me to the dance. I burn with it. And one day, it will consume me.” (A Duet With Darkness, p. 218)

“Why did it have to be a clown?” (The Inside Man, p. 321)

More to come soon…                                                                                                


Song Today? Funhouse by P!NK

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