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Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come. Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for comm Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come. Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge. Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers. Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.


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Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come. Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for comm Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come. Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge. Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers. Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.

30 review for Bacchanal

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mary Robinette Kowal

    If you took the Night Circus and viewed it through the gaze of a young Black woman in the Great Depression, you might get Veronica Henry's Bacchanal. Demons, lies, and secrets. This book is not an easy read, by turns uncomfortable and demanding that readers meet it partway. The journey is worthwhile. If you took the Night Circus and viewed it through the gaze of a young Black woman in the Great Depression, you might get Veronica Henry's Bacchanal. Demons, lies, and secrets. This book is not an easy read, by turns uncomfortable and demanding that readers meet it partway. The journey is worthwhile.

  2. 5 out of 5

    abi

    1.5* there's a really good story in here somewhere, but... this reads like a first draft. awkward, clunky, switching between rushed action and laboriously slow sections where nothing happens, over and over. also, the romance was pretty gross and entirely uncompelling, with liza seemingly having no respect for herself, and both her and her two love interests acting like children. a lot of storming off and avoiding each other and forced miscommunication. and a lot of pretty distasteful sexism/enfor 1.5* there's a really good story in here somewhere, but... this reads like a first draft. awkward, clunky, switching between rushed action and laboriously slow sections where nothing happens, over and over. also, the romance was pretty gross and entirely uncompelling, with liza seemingly having no respect for herself, and both her and her two love interests acting like children. a lot of storming off and avoiding each other and forced miscommunication. and a lot of pretty distasteful sexism/enforcement of gender roles, that just... wasn't interrogated, at all?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stay Fetters

    "Welcome to Hell!" DNF @ 36% This book whispered to me like something evil and creepy lurking in the dark. It called to me and captured me in it’s clutches. An evil surrounding a traveling carnival, an abandoned child with weird powers, and a devilish pact only she can break. It offered so much darkness and it was a book that I knew I needed to read. Depression-era in the sweltering heat of Louisiana, a young woman is left behind by her family only with a photograph and an amulet. Her powers fright "Welcome to Hell!" DNF @ 36% This book whispered to me like something evil and creepy lurking in the dark. It called to me and captured me in it’s clutches. An evil surrounding a traveling carnival, an abandoned child with weird powers, and a devilish pact only she can break. It offered so much darkness and it was a book that I knew I needed to read. Depression-era in the sweltering heat of Louisiana, a young woman is left behind by her family only with a photograph and an amulet. Her powers frighten some and others welcome her gift. She has the gift to communicate with animals and it comes in handy as she learns to survive on her own. The traveling carnival known as Bacchanal comes into town and the owner spots Eliza and her special gift. He offers her a spot as an oddity and she accepts. This is finally her way out of dirty jobs and the South. As she sinks into the routine of Carnival life and lives among the other carnival folk, a demon is slithering her way through the innocent souls of the townsfolk. Hiding in a disguise and feeding on their souls. Now it’s Elizas time to grasp her destiny and try to save all she knows and loves from this demon. Will she be strong enough to succeed? Or the will demon drain the souls of the innocent forever? It started off a lot slower that I usually want in a book like this. Parts got interesting as the demon made her appearance and made a devilish deal but not much happened in the pages that I’ve read. It was very slow paced and the writing style was kind of boring. It made for a very agonizingly slow read where there was zero connection to the characters. Bacchanal had a lot going for it but it wasn’t executed properly. This could have been my favorite book of the year but it’s going to end up on the bad list. It really pained me to say that because it had a lot of amazing things going for it. It was just moved at a snails pace and I lost interest.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    I was enjoying Bacchanal at first. It follows a cast of characters working at a carnival in the 1930s. But this book was trying to crossover many genres and just wasn't hitting hard enough for me. It didn't have enough dark fantasy or horror elements to intrigue me. Much of the story is just following the characters through daily carnival life. Liza has a gift that allows her to speak to spirits and animals and she's learning to balance that. I had problems with the pacing in that in some areas I was enjoying Bacchanal at first. It follows a cast of characters working at a carnival in the 1930s. But this book was trying to crossover many genres and just wasn't hitting hard enough for me. It didn't have enough dark fantasy or horror elements to intrigue me. Much of the story is just following the characters through daily carnival life. Liza has a gift that allows her to speak to spirits and animals and she's learning to balance that. I had problems with the pacing in that in some areas it went too fast and in other areas it moved too slow. I liked some of the more creepy moments when the spirits exposed themselves at the carnival but it wasn't enough to make the story memorable for me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Beckee❤️

    This took a little while to get into as there were so many POV's to follow and a lot of activity thrown around all at once. However, I enjoyed it enough to finish the book and I really liked the ending! This took a little while to get into as there were so many POV's to follow and a lot of activity thrown around all at once. However, I enjoyed it enough to finish the book and I really liked the ending!

  6. 4 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Rep: Black mcs CWs: gore, violence, self harm, child deaths Galley provided by publisher If you find yourself looking for a creepy historical paranormal mystery, Bacchanal is going to be the book for you. Set in a carnival, it follows Liza, who has the ability to communicate with animals, and who is also searching for her family. But all is not as it seems at this carnival and, in its wake, it leaves a trail of missing children. The book is very atmospheric, which is a good thing, bec On my blog. Rep: Black mcs CWs: gore, violence, self harm, child deaths Galley provided by publisher If you find yourself looking for a creepy historical paranormal mystery, Bacchanal is going to be the book for you. Set in a carnival, it follows Liza, who has the ability to communicate with animals, and who is also searching for her family. But all is not as it seems at this carnival and, in its wake, it leaves a trail of missing children. The book is very atmospheric, which is a good thing, because it’s also quite slowburning. The plot doesn’t exactly move quickly — although when it gets going towards the end, it really gets going. It spends a lot of time building up the creepiness of the carnival. Which is fine, but I found myself a tiny bit bored and skimming at points. I suppose this is where it didn’t help that much to have multiple POVs. I find this a lot with me and mysteries, to be fair. If I know more about what’s going on than the nominal protagonist does, I get impatient. In all fairness, though, this book did a good job of keeping me interested besides. There was plenty for the protagonists to find out that other POVs didn’t know either. In all honesty, this is a difficult one to review, I’m finding. Because I did like it, but I also wanted more from it. From the premise, from the very concept even, it felt like it should be amazing. But in the end, not a whole lot of it sticks in my mind, besides that concept. For all that I did enjoy it, I also found it a little bit forgettable. But if the premise interests you, I would highly recommend giving this one a go. It’s a book I enjoyed reading and, to be honest, that’s enough.

  7. 4 out of 5

    akacya ♡̷̷ˎˊ

    this story follows a traveling carnival going around the depression-era south. when the newest act comes in, the evil plaguing the carnival might finally be defeated. this book had beautifully descriptive writing. i thought it had a cool concept that was executed very well. it had the same vibes as the night circus, but personally i liked this one better.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~

    Reads like Tamora Pierce trying to be Stephen King. Nothing wrong with either one, but this is a terrible mismatch of genres that never found its footing. And of course, there's a love triangle. *sigh* DNF @ 62% Narrator was good but read too slow, had to increase speed to 1.30 times and the story was still creeping along. Reads like Tamora Pierce trying to be Stephen King. Nothing wrong with either one, but this is a terrible mismatch of genres that never found its footing. And of course, there's a love triangle. *sigh* DNF @ 62% Narrator was good but read too slow, had to increase speed to 1.30 times and the story was still creeping along.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Stevens

    3 star is a solid, I really did enjoy the theme of the story. However, the story timings were just off. We started off at an OK pace, we then took 100 pages unnecessarily to build up an inbetween story which the foundation was just wasn't needed. It was extremely slow. I then felt the interesting details during the ending and after were just sailed over. Feel like the writer evolved Liza whilst writing and didn't clearly understand what she was or wanted her to be till she was mid book which made 3 star is a solid, I really did enjoy the theme of the story. However, the story timings were just off. We started off at an OK pace, we then took 100 pages unnecessarily to build up an inbetween story which the foundation was just wasn't needed. It was extremely slow. I then felt the interesting details during the ending and after were just sailed over. Feel like the writer evolved Liza whilst writing and didn't clearly understand what she was or wanted her to be till she was mid book which made it a little jumbled. The significance also of delving into some of the secondary characters back stories also felt lost as they were just stuck in at times I don't feel held too much significance. Overall I did like the theme of this work and It was easy to read. I would read something by Veronica again. I could imagine the carnival and could easily lose in the setting.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Thank you to the publishers 47North for granting my request to read this as an E-ARC via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. The premise of this book sounded so cool! Set in a carnival in the American South - so mysterious. However, the book left me very confused as to what it was actually about. I only finished it because when publishers grants my requests to review something, I feel obligated to finish through as a thank you, but that leaves me with little to say about this book. It is about a Thank you to the publishers 47North for granting my request to read this as an E-ARC via Netgalley. All opinions are my own. The premise of this book sounded so cool! Set in a carnival in the American South - so mysterious. However, the book left me very confused as to what it was actually about. I only finished it because when publishers grants my requests to review something, I feel obligated to finish through as a thank you, but that leaves me with little to say about this book. It is about a young woman called Eliza Meeks who ends up at this carnival after being jailed. Turns out Eliza can "talk" to animals (she sends them pictures that they respond to - cool concept!). She slowly gets integrated with the other people working at the carnival. I think there's a storyline with possession and demons, but I honestly couldn't understand much of it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Amazing Story I am still trying to figure it all out. A demon who owns a carnival! On the one hand, it is a charming and even exciting tale that kept me turning the pages. I was rooting for Lisa, and wondering where it was going. But it was such a fun and different read that I almost didn't even worry about how it would end. But once we got there, it was thrilling, but confusing to me in parts. I had to remind myself who certain characters were, a thing that rarely happens to me. I still have que Amazing Story I am still trying to figure it all out. A demon who owns a carnival! On the one hand, it is a charming and even exciting tale that kept me turning the pages. I was rooting for Lisa, and wondering where it was going. But it was such a fun and different read that I almost didn't even worry about how it would end. But once we got there, it was thrilling, but confusing to me in parts. I had to remind myself who certain characters were, a thing that rarely happens to me. I still have questions in my head but I am at peace with the ending. If you want to try something very different but captivating, pick up this book. You may like it or not, confused by it or not, but I promise you it is a thoughtful, entertaining, and even fun read. This author, who tells us she came to writing late in life, really had a story to tell! And I, for one, am so very glad she wrote it down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Kathryn Wright

    1.5 ⭐️ The cover is stunning and the description is really good, but the book overall did not give the same vibe. I thought it was going to be a spooky read but I never felt it. There wasn’t anything I found engaging, the characters I couldn’t connect with and the plot dragged on a lot. The characters there was nothing that got me to connect with them and made me want to follow their story. As for the plot I didn’t find it that intriguing and there were so many moments where nothing happens. Also 1.5 ⭐️ The cover is stunning and the description is really good, but the book overall did not give the same vibe. I thought it was going to be a spooky read but I never felt it. There wasn’t anything I found engaging, the characters I couldn’t connect with and the plot dragged on a lot. The characters there was nothing that got me to connect with them and made me want to follow their story. As for the plot I didn’t find it that intriguing and there were so many moments where nothing happens. Also, the characters storming off and their struggle with communicating felt forced and didn’t seem realistic.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patty (IheartYA311)

    If I wasn't buddy reading this book, it probably would have been a DNF. The beginning had promise; it started off strong with a good pace and interesting writing style. Things quickly became inconsistent and sloppy. If it stuck with Liza's POV instead of jumping around it would have been much better. The plot often lost footing, going into too many different directions, the point of the story too often thrown aside. The idea was original but the execution left much to be wanted. If I wasn't buddy reading this book, it probably would have been a DNF. The beginning had promise; it started off strong with a good pace and interesting writing style. Things quickly became inconsistent and sloppy. If it stuck with Liza's POV instead of jumping around it would have been much better. The plot often lost footing, going into too many different directions, the point of the story too often thrown aside. The idea was original but the execution left much to be wanted.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Shaw

    I liked the setting - a creepy/paranormal carnival that travels around in the deep south in the 1930s - and the book had a great set of characters. However, I thought the plot moved way too slow. The final ~50 pages are action packed and a blast to read, but the first 300 were sort of a slow slog to get through. The love interests were also poorly done and added nothing of value. It's not an awful or unredeemable book, but I agree with some of the other comments here that it reads somewhat like I liked the setting - a creepy/paranormal carnival that travels around in the deep south in the 1930s - and the book had a great set of characters. However, I thought the plot moved way too slow. The final ~50 pages are action packed and a blast to read, but the first 300 were sort of a slow slog to get through. The love interests were also poorly done and added nothing of value. It's not an awful or unredeemable book, but I agree with some of the other comments here that it reads somewhat like a first draft. If you trim 50 pages off the book and speed up the plot a bit I think it would be a much better read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ruthie

    Bacchanal is like The Night Circus, The Golden Compass, Black Girl Magic, and The Soul Eater from the CW show Supernatural all came together and roamed Baton Rouge and other states in the south wreaking havoc everywhere they go! I enjoyed it a lot. I read the ebook version and would be interested to see how the audiobook is. In reading the ebook, the antagonist was more interesting to me and I would look forward to scenes with the antagonist more than the hero. I didn't feel very connected to the Bacchanal is like The Night Circus, The Golden Compass, Black Girl Magic, and The Soul Eater from the CW show Supernatural all came together and roamed Baton Rouge and other states in the south wreaking havoc everywhere they go! I enjoyed it a lot. I read the ebook version and would be interested to see how the audiobook is. In reading the ebook, the antagonist was more interesting to me and I would look forward to scenes with the antagonist more than the hero. I didn't feel very connected to the hero, Eliza Meeks. But, maybe with a voice to listen to and characterization in the form of the audiobook where you can hear the inflection in her words and feel what she is feeling a lot better, I think she would become more dynamic to me. The shock value of whatever the antagonist was doing in their scenes stood out to me and "perked me up" in a way while reading that the internal dialogue and thoughts of the MC didn't. But, this is a common problem I experience since I love and prefer audiobooks so someone who doesn't read audiobooks probably wouldn't have this problem. I find I can't distinguish the voices of characters well in my head while reading ebooks. I'll think, "wait who is talking again" and I have to look at previous sentences read. When the antagonist was on page-I always knew. It was a stronger character presence and the way the scenes opened made it obvious to me right away. I enjoyed the uniqueness in the cast of characters and their magical powers/abilities/character traits. I also loved the epic final battle! The author's note at the end talking about the historical character that was part of her inspiration was fun to read as well. Disclaimer: I received a review copy from NetGalley and Wunderkind PR free of charge. It was my choice to read and I'm leaving this review voluntarily.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    2.5??? - *scratches head* Sooo here we have a conundrum. This had a nice prose, the cast was eclectic and diverse, and the plot plops African demons and spirits and general mythos into southern U.S. Cool stuff! But everything was so...strangely low stakes? And it never gave me space to emotionally connect with most of it. Kind of feels like I ate an entire cake and only realized at the end that the middle was completely hollow.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    It's such a brilliant concept that's so badly executed. Nothing within this book is fully developed, it reads like a draft. This had such potential to discuss so many issues and ideas bit just doesn't. It's such a brilliant concept that's so badly executed. Nothing within this book is fully developed, it reads like a draft. This had such potential to discuss so many issues and ideas bit just doesn't.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle

    Fascinating carnival ride of ingenious twists and turns This book hooked me from the very beginning! It's a unique story with a multi-faceted mystery steeped in African folklore and tradition. The characters, the description, the compelling motives--every line delivered a marvelous, magical step deeper into the carnival and the demon within. Liza is a bold character with a quick mind and sharp tongue. I enjoyed all of the intersections of characters, discovering how they came to be at the carniva Fascinating carnival ride of ingenious twists and turns This book hooked me from the very beginning! It's a unique story with a multi-faceted mystery steeped in African folklore and tradition. The characters, the description, the compelling motives--every line delivered a marvelous, magical step deeper into the carnival and the demon within. Liza is a bold character with a quick mind and sharp tongue. I enjoyed all of the intersections of characters, discovering how they came to be at the carnival and wondering how Liza might discover the secrets within. My husband recommended this book to me and I'm glad because I enjoyed it and I might have missed it otherwise. It's hard to explain or compare this book to others, but I couldn't put it down! Step inside Bacchanal and see for yourself that there is no escape from a great story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Richelle Robinson

    Thank you 47North for my review copy. I’ve always been a fan of carnivals and loved the tv show ‘Carnivale’ so it was a no brainer that I wanted to read about an all Black traveling carnival. We are introduced to Eliza, who is a young girl that has a gift when it comes to animals. She is the town outcast until they need her help. 😒 I did feel the story was slow at times and there was too much day to day with Eliza and her inner dialogue began to become repetitive. The pacing in this story was to Thank you 47North for my review copy. I’ve always been a fan of carnivals and loved the tv show ‘Carnivale’ so it was a no brainer that I wanted to read about an all Black traveling carnival. We are introduced to Eliza, who is a young girl that has a gift when it comes to animals. She is the town outcast until they need her help. 😒 I did feel the story was slow at times and there was too much day to day with Eliza and her inner dialogue began to become repetitive. The pacing in this story was too off balanced for me. Some parts were slow and others were fast. I felt the story really didn’t pick until the last ten chapters of the book and that the ending was a little rushed. This is a debut novel and all authors have to start somewhere and I wouldn’t be against reading another novel by this author. Triggers: Death, Racism.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I wish I'd liked this more than I did. I think it suffered unfairly because I had just finished re-reading The Golem and the Jinni, and all the mystical stuff seemed lesser by comparison. I think the book was good enough to bump it up a star, ignoring how I personally reacted to it. I wish I'd liked this more than I did. I think it suffered unfairly because I had just finished re-reading The Golem and the Jinni, and all the mystical stuff seemed lesser by comparison. I think the book was good enough to bump it up a star, ignoring how I personally reacted to it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Schoen

    I gave this book 4 stars mostly because I was fascinated by the story told through the eyes of a very young black girl in the 1930s. Alone in Louisiana, working as an indentured slave for room and board, she meets two men who are looking for interesting carnival acts. She follows them to a local show where a man is about to wrestle an alligator. The act takes a bad turn and the alligator gets the best of the man. Before it can kill him the young girl demonstrates her gift by sending the alligato I gave this book 4 stars mostly because I was fascinated by the story told through the eyes of a very young black girl in the 1930s. Alone in Louisiana, working as an indentured slave for room and board, she meets two men who are looking for interesting carnival acts. She follows them to a local show where a man is about to wrestle an alligator. The act takes a bad turn and the alligator gets the best of the man. Before it can kill him the young girl demonstrates her gift by sending the alligator a vision that calms him and makes him move away from the injured man. Needless to say, the carnival men see her potential and she is soon a part of their carnival to perform an animal act. The carnival moves through the deep south from place to place painting an interesting picture of race relations in that era. The story becomes even more interesting when the girl discovers a dark and dangerous presence within the carnival and, with the help of her spirit guide animals, she is forced to confront the evil. A satisfying read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry is my Kindle First Read selection for May 2021... This was such a unique and imaginative reading experience! Not only did it bring to life the deep south of 1930's America, but also the wild savanna and beating drums of Africa. Bacchanal is the name of a Depression-era carnival with evil at its very core. Like most carnivals, freak shows, or circuses; the people of Bacchanal possess special abilities/talents and/or have unique appearances. Something unique to Baccha Bacchanal by Veronica G. Henry is my Kindle First Read selection for May 2021... This was such a unique and imaginative reading experience! Not only did it bring to life the deep south of 1930's America, but also the wild savanna and beating drums of Africa. Bacchanal is the name of a Depression-era carnival with evil at its very core. Like most carnivals, freak shows, or circuses; the people of Bacchanal possess special abilities/talents and/or have unique appearances. Something unique to Bacchanal, however, is that it is comprised almost entirely of people of African descent (the ominous reason for this eventually becomes clear). Even more unique is the demonic entity who feasts upon the innocent souls who are lured to Bacchanal by the promises of food and frolic. The protagonist of this story is a young black woman named Eliza who has a supernatural ability to communicate with animals by sending and receiving mental pictures with them. Despite her good intentions and careful efforts to hone her skills, Eliza's talent often resulted in the animal's death; thus making her feared and misunderstood by others. When the G.B. Bacchanal Carnival comes to town and discovers Eliza's ability, she is asked to join them on their trek across the south. Alone and abandoned by her family, she accepts the invitation. While Eliza quickly finds kinship among the people of Bacchanal, she also quickly discovers that the carnival is shrouded in mystery and an ever-present darkness that spans across continents and dimensions. This was a ton of fun! 🎪🎡🎠

  23. 4 out of 5

    Scott Whitney

    Well Worth the Time The magic of a carnival might just be all illusion, or it might be the real thing. This book has a certain amount of magic which will keep the reader spellbound in a magical world which exists between the “covers.” This book tells of a battle between darkness and light, but who can tell the outcome.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)

    I received an advance reader's copy from Wunderkind PR in an exchange for a free and honest review. I read 29% and DNFed. Trigger warnings (up to the 29% mark): Child death and animal death Style/writing: Unfortunately this was one of the biggest reasons that I DNFed. Writing is a really important factor for me when reading, and something about this style wasn't working. I found it to be a bit muddled, and I never felt clear on what exactly was going on. Themes: At the point I DNFed, the author h I received an advance reader's copy from Wunderkind PR in an exchange for a free and honest review. I read 29% and DNFed. Trigger warnings (up to the 29% mark): Child death and animal death Style/writing: Unfortunately this was one of the biggest reasons that I DNFed. Writing is a really important factor for me when reading, and something about this style wasn't working. I found it to be a bit muddled, and I never felt clear on what exactly was going on. Themes: At the point I DNFed, the author had introduced some themes around race and racism during the Depression era, and I think it's likely that those were more fully explored later in the book. What I read seemed to be done well, drawing from ideas about heritage after events like slavery and colonization. Characters: I was having some difficulty distinguishing between different side characters at the carnival, as they were reading quite similar. I was still trying to get a feel for the main character of Liza, so I found it a bit distracting and clunky to have asides with secondary character backstory. Plot: I wasn't quite certain what the main plot was going to be at the time that I DNFed. It could have involved the dark force at the carnival or Liza being reunited with her sister, but I didn't find it to be clear. The first 29% seemed to be more focused on the development of atmosphere than plot. Worldbuilding: The atmosphere was well developed at the point I stopped reading. Something dark and creepy was obviously going on, and I think that this will really work for readers who enjoy a heavy atmosphere with some light horror elements. Unfortunately I don't think that the carnival setting held my interest like I hoped it would (which checks out because I've been nervous about trying The Night Circus for the same reason!).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Debbi

    Ray Bradbury meets Edwidge Dantcat and Alice Hoffman in something new, ancient and fresh. I read about 6 books a week. I read a lot of science fantasy and literary fiction. In the last few years I've discovered three extraordinary new fantasy writers; Rivers Solomon,Jennifer Givhan and now, Veronica G. Henry. Read it, you'll see. Ray Bradbury meets Edwidge Dantcat and Alice Hoffman in something new, ancient and fresh. I read about 6 books a week. I read a lot of science fantasy and literary fiction. In the last few years I've discovered three extraordinary new fantasy writers; Rivers Solomon,Jennifer Givhan and now, Veronica G. Henry. Read it, you'll see.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Pamela Scott

    https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... This is a new author for me and a debut. I felt like reading something a little different for this month’s Amazon First Reads having read a lot of similar thriller-type books over recent months. I love books about carnivals and the like, especially darker stories so this sounded like a treat. I love the cover as well. I had a great time reading this book. I loved the setting at the carnival and the range of eccentric characters Eliza meets. I also loved th https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpres... This is a new author for me and a debut. I felt like reading something a little different for this month’s Amazon First Reads having read a lot of similar thriller-type books over recent months. I love books about carnivals and the like, especially darker stories so this sounded like a treat. I love the cover as well. I had a great time reading this book. I loved the setting at the carnival and the range of eccentric characters Eliza meets. I also loved the darker elements of the book as the evil in the carnival starts to really come into full force and things get hairy. This is a great book. I look forward to seeing what the author comes up with next.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leland M Porter

    I got this book from Amazon Prime free. It's a joy to read, I thought. Maybe not for everybody, but if you liked Dexter or the Sookie Stackhouse series, I think you'd be like me and think this is a great book ... that maybe could have been tightened up a little bit. Most of the time I thought this is great writing of a great story, but once in a while I wondered how far I could skip ahead and still understand. Thank you Veronica Henry, and much success to you. I got this book from Amazon Prime free. It's a joy to read, I thought. Maybe not for everybody, but if you liked Dexter or the Sookie Stackhouse series, I think you'd be like me and think this is a great book ... that maybe could have been tightened up a little bit. Most of the time I thought this is great writing of a great story, but once in a while I wondered how far I could skip ahead and still understand. Thank you Veronica Henry, and much success to you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brett Burkhardt

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS * Up until about the last 50 pages, I was going to round this up to a 3-star book. Slow, but with a few interesting bits that would make it worth while for a YA audience. Then I got to the end of the book and I was completely and utterly over it. At first I was disappointed in it but then I got angry at all the wasted potential of the story. Below are my major issues with it, there will be plenty of spoilers ahead. 1. Liza is irritating and not very intere SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS * SPOILERS * Up until about the last 50 pages, I was going to round this up to a 3-star book. Slow, but with a few interesting bits that would make it worth while for a YA audience. Then I got to the end of the book and I was completely and utterly over it. At first I was disappointed in it but then I got angry at all the wasted potential of the story. Below are my major issues with it, there will be plenty of spoilers ahead. 1. Liza is irritating and not very interesting as a protagonist. For the longest time, I thought she was just a petulant 16 year old. NOPE! She's in her mid-20's and acts like she's 14! Almost every scene with her involved her getting into a childish little snit over absolutely nothing and either storming off or mouthing off. Even as her friendships and romantic relationships evolved, she didn't for the most part. 2. Her powers have almost no use in the story. Oh, she can talk to animals? Sweet! So she'll have like an animal army or can call on them to protect her in her hour of need or maybe just an animal companion that she works with the solve issues? What do you mean, no?! So she mostly just kills animals with her thoughts until almost halfway through the book when she throws together an animal show with two animals who play no further part in the story and drop off the story entirely just after she cobbles said show together? Her monkey companion just sort of hangs out in her pocket being cute and doesn't do much else...mmmmkayyy. 3. Until they do! So, in the last 40 odd pages, she can suddenly call on spirit guides who let her shapeshift, use healing magic, fight, and can then become POSSESSED BY THE SPIRIT OF THE GODDESS OYA! Where was all this earlier in the story when it would have been both useful and interesting. She could have been doing more than killing opossums with her mind this entire time and you cram it all in at the end because...uh...spiritual reasons. Yeah, that's it, she's...ummmmm...passed her spiritual tests now... 4. Why are they here? This book is just littered with absolutely useless and superfluous side characters. Autumn? Other than being her roommate and occasional sounding board, she did nothing and her chapter was just filler. Stephanie St. Clair? We could have had gangsters in this book but nope, she's just there to summon a demon and then visit her nephew working at the carnival. There were just so many side characters whose stories and actions came to nothing. 5. More demon, please! Ahiku was, without a doubt, the most interesting character in the entire book and there just isn't enough of her and her scheming. Honestly, if she had been in this more, the rating would be higher. After her lunch with the demons, I was way more interested in what they were doing that what was happening at the carnival. 6. Not enough murder. What got me hooked early on were the murders, disappearances, and general supernatural mayhem that was being offered up. I needed more of it to both create some suspense or peril for the other characters.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eule Luftschloss

    dnf after 30 pages trigger warning (view spoiler)[ mention of slavery, being abandoned (hide spoiler)] Lizzie joins a travelling carnival to escape the landlady who treats her with scorn regardless of how good her work is, and also in hopes of finding her family. Not only misses she her sister, but there might be a possibility of her father being able to teach her how to control her gift. Yes, I did not get far. I had this suspicion that the author has not written yet the 100.000 pages that are sai dnf after 30 pages trigger warning (view spoiler)[ mention of slavery, being abandoned (hide spoiler)] Lizzie joins a travelling carnival to escape the landlady who treats her with scorn regardless of how good her work is, and also in hopes of finding her family. Not only misses she her sister, but there might be a possibility of her father being able to teach her how to control her gift. Yes, I did not get far. I had this suspicion that the author has not written yet the 100.000 pages that are said to be necessary for you to develope your own style and get to know some writing techniques. It reads very bland, the characters are not three dimensional, and it's more about what the author thought they'd write instead of what's actually written on the page. Or, as other reviewers said, this reads like a first draft. I'd be interested to see what this author does further down the line, after writing more. But right now, there is no way I am reading 300+ pages of this. No recommendation. The arc was provided by the publisher.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Fernanda Granzotto

    *Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own* 2.5 stars The beginning of this book was difficult to understand and I had to reread the first parts several times until I understood what was going on. I didn't like the author's writing at all, I found the book not very well structured. His premise is great the execution not so much, I found the story confusing. And while it was a quick story it was slow because the author *Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own* 2.5 stars The beginning of this book was difficult to understand and I had to reread the first parts several times until I understood what was going on. I didn't like the author's writing at all, I found the book not very well structured. His premise is great the execution not so much, I found the story confusing. And while it was a quick story it was slow because the author extended herself into parts that didn’t matter and went through important parts of the story very quickly. The characters are great, I liked most of them, but in the end, I got the feeling that we have no conclusion for any of them except our protagonist Liza. The ending was terrible and what made this book go from 3 stars to 2, it seemed a lot that the author didn't know how to finish the book so she ended it and put an epilogue on it, which made me think that the story was useless. I am disappointed because I really wanted to like this book if you are interested in reading it a give it a chance you may like it more than I did since the part of African culture was very well done in my opinion and it is worth reading for!

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