published: 25th May 2021
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.
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: gore, violence, self harm, child deaths
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.