Before I start with all the good stuff, I just need to get the fact that the blurb is a bit of a liar out of the way first.
I am disappointed with the blurb. Stating workers disappear (they don’t, only Blossom), and wind up dead (also no, only Blossom died and that was found out at the end). I hate it when blurbs lie. Make things seem grander than they are. Really, I would have read the book if the blurb was just honest. And besides, you could just have replaced that sentence with that people start to get attacked, that something is hunting them, and voila, it is still creepy, but now without the lies.
There that was truly the only thing I didn’t like. The other thing that wasn’t really fun was the fact that Goodreads spoils something from the book with their shelves (which is a reason I am not adding it to that shelf). Yes, in a way you can deduce it while reading, but I definitely think when it was revealed to Mara I would have liked it more if I still was guessing and not having a clear vision on it.
The book starts off with the creepy vibes immediately, not only with that first few pages, but also when we meet our group and they travel to Caudry. You immediately got a sense of something wrong, and I was just telling them to turn away, even if it costs them money. But of course they don’t, they need that money too badly, and I was just sad for them, that they knew something was up, but that they couldn’t leave due to financial problems. 🙁
That financial problem part comes up quite a few times, at times I was a bit bored with it, as, yes I know now. You can’t leave because you are broke. But really, is it worth it in the end? Various people left when the attacks began, people have gotten hurt, there was fear all over the place, worry, and much more. I am not sure if their bond (as they have quite a bond as a travelling family) got better or worse. I know there might not be a good solution now, but maybe another solution will pop by, something safer and better.
I definitely loved the fact that the supernatural powers of the people in the carnival were real. Those who had powers really had powers, it wasn’t just make believe or fake. And that was a delight. We have a girl who can summon flames, people who can levitate, necromancers (though not as cool as some books make them out to be), and much more. It was a feast to read and learn about all these characters and see what made them tick. Of course each of them has a story that is quite heartbreaking, the carnival is taking people who have run away, who have no other options, who need a safe haven, and I was happy that Gideon, despite the financial stuff, still opened up and let them in. Providing them a safe place.
The whodunnit, who is the big scary monster that is lurking around, and what is going on in Caudry? Brilliantly written, and very engaging. I had a few suspects, based on how they acted, and it was fun to see the story twist and turn, providing more hints and clues to what was going on. In the end I was partially right, I can’t really tell you much more than that, as that would spoil things. But I was happy I at least had parts of it right.
Mara and Gabe’s romance? Some might say it was a bit too fast, but for some reason I loved it in this one. It is well written and feels honest. They are truly cute together and had a real connection and a whole bunch of chemistry. I just looked forward to their parts as much as I did to the creepy parts. Gabe was so sweet and understanding, he didn’t care that Mara was from the carnival, he even protected her during several moments in the story, and I was just swooning in delight. These 2 are a match made in heaven and in a way it is a good thing that Mara came to Caudry, otherwise she wouldn’t have met this wonderful man.
Their dates were adorable, though at times a bit awkward (but aren’t all first dates that?).
Mara was a great character and I loved her from the get-go. She was interesting, also because at first she didn’t seem to have powers (which changed later as you just knew she must have something to feel the wrongness + have dreams that she did). She is also really brave, never giving up. Though I have to say I didn’t like her much when the secret of her being a Carnie got out and she just ran away, immediately thinking Gabe was the same as everyone else. It seemed overdramatic, and she didn’t even give him a chance. I can imagine that her life wasn’t easy, but come on, at least give someone a chance.
At the end she really showed bravery, not many people would have done what she did, and I was cheering for her.
Mara’s mom? Meh, I am not sure if I liked her. At times yes, but at other times I found her violent and controlling. I know your daughter is living with you, and thus you have some control, but really, at times I was wondering if the mom knew her daughter was 18/19, or if she was still stuck thinking her daughter was 12/13.
Logan was also annoying, I really couldn’t see why Selena (such a great character) was with him. He was rude, always drunk (really, why), and I disliked his attitude towards Mara. Thinking she was less than anyone because she lived with the carnival.
The book is fast-paced, there are no parts that were boring.
The carnival, the midway, it was all written in a way that I could just imagine myself walking around, enjoying the rides, the shows, the games. I could just see the glitter of the lights in the fading day as evening comes.
The ending was terrific, and I loved it. I won’t delve deeper in it, as anything can be a spoiler.
I would have loved to see an epilogue, a few months later, or maybe even a year. Just to see how certain characters are doing now.
All in all, this was a terrific book and I will be re-reading it one day again. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.