My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
**Thank you so very much to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley for the purposes of review**
There is a great line from this novel that says, “The truth, once known, can’t be unknown.” Very similarly, this book, once read, cannot be un-read.
It is a wonderfully charming story, full of the whimsy one would expect from a circus/carnie setting; thought this time we focus on the freakshow more than, say, the more elegant and graceful acts.
The characters are the strongest part of the book, ranging from legless men with dreadlocks, mute Turkish boys, half-burned men, pretty British girls, and even a character who is gender-fluid — sometime I welcome very much. These characters are all bound together by an eccentric inventor named Timur, and I think you’d realized by now this is the sort of ensemble cast that both delight and bring you a great depth of emotion. This is a story of an unconventional family, and each member is interesting in their own right; together, they are marvelous.
And then there’s the plot: a mysterious, rapidly-spreading disease rips through Coney Island, infecting all there in surprisingly disparate ways. It’s disgusting and distressing, as you spend the entire time with this little unconventional family, watching as they try to save all the ones they care about through all the myriad issues that crop up like a demented carnival game. It’s a story with constant movement and enough variety in the action that things never get dull; just as you’re ready to move on, the book does so. Needless to say, it’s well-paced.
It was wonderfully delightful and I’m glad I was able to step away from reality for the briefest moment and enter Magrudedr’s Curiosity Cabinet.