This is a gothic, victorian tale that quickly captured my attention. I ended up really enjoying this magical tale. I don’t know if I would have liked it quite as much if it wasn’t for the immersion of the audiobook narration. His accent added such a great authenticity to the setting.
I thought the magical elements were incredibly interesting. I almost wish we got more of those scenes. I thought the characters were well written and the plot was cohesive. There was just enough mystery to keep me hooked. I would love to see another book set in this world with these characters.
This book won’t be for everyone. The pacing is more on the slower side. There are quite a few trigger warnings that may be an issue for some readers. There is a lot of dialogue. However, if you have any interest in the synopsis, then I say give it a try.
Amiee Gibbs' "The Carnivale of Curiosities" captivated me with its haunting prose and dark, magical atmosphere. It's not just a carnival; it's a labyrinth of secrets and desires, where the line between illusion and reality blurs under the gaslight.
The story unfolds in Victorian London, where Aurelius Ashe's Carnivale promises the impossible. Its star, Lucien, a fire-wielding enigma, and the rest of the troupe's unique performers enthrall audiences and whisper of hidden powers. But behind the dazzling spectacle lies a web of intrigue, fueled by desperation and Faustian bargains.
Lucien's internal struggle between duty and his fiery abilities is compelling, while Charlotte, a young woman burdened by a mysterious illness, evokes both sympathy and curiosity. Even the supporting characters, like the captivating twins and the empathic Dita, are vividly portrayed, adding richness to the carnival's tapestry.
The author's prose is lyrical and evocative, painting a vivid picture of grimy streets, opulent mansions, and the shadowed world backstage. The Victorian setting feels authentic and immersive, with its social inequalities and the allure of the supernatural. Gibbs masterfully weaves historical details with imaginative elements, creating a world that feels both familiar and fantastical.
However, "The Carnivale of Curiosities" isn't without its flaws. The story is a slow burn, building to a dark climax. The pacing then can be uneven at times, with some chapters feeling slower than others. Additionally, the ending, while satisfying, felt somewhat rushed, leaving some threads dangling.
Despite these minor shortcomings, "The Carnivale of Curiosities" remains a captivating read. It's a story that will linger in your mind long after you turn the last page, making you question the nature of reality and the price of wishes. If you're looking for a dark, atmospheric tale with unique characters and a touch of magic, step right up and enter the Carnivale – just be prepared to face the shadows that lurk within.
Thank you for this ARC.
I really tend to love circus stories and I really did enjoy this book. It was a lot different than i expected, with some interesting mysteries and a lot of surprisingly dark content. I really enjoyed learning about all of our performers and we have a great cast of characters. I feel like I need to re read this on audio though but I will be checking out more from this author.
Aurelius Ashe is not your typical magician…and the Carnivale of Curiosities is not your typical traveling sideshow circus. People come back again and again to take in the unbelievable and have their every wish granted, regardless of the price. When the notorious Odilon Rose comes calling for help, he sets off a series of events that will have grave consequences for all involved.
This was dark and magical story set in Victorian London . I couldn’t help but feel Jack the Ripper vibes quite a few times. Especially with some of the gruesome deeds that took place.
The author wrote a compelling and immersive story. I was immediately drawn into the bleak circus world. There were so many characters I had a hard time connecting to any one. I wish I could have had more time learning more about each of the circus members as they appeared to have interesting stories.
If you like dark tales showing how far people will go to hide truths and get what they want mixed with a dose of magic, then give this book a try.
*Thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest & voluntary review.
thank you to netgalley for the advanced reading copy. I really enjoyed this and will be getting copies for my shop.
"The Carnivale of Curiosities" was, for me, the right book at the right time. I was in the mood for a magical yet dark and gothic read, and Amiee Gibbs's debut novel delivered just that.
I alternated between my DRC and the audiobook on loan from my library, and I far preferred reading the story versus listening to it. For one, Gibbs's prose is lovely and some of the beauty of her writing is lost in the audio narration. And for two, the male narrator doesn't do the best job when voicing the female characters. His attempts to mimic women's voices are off-putting.
I do hope there is a sequel in the works. Certain aspects of the story feel unfinished, and I would enjoy reading a continuation.
Key word: READING it. I'll skip the audiobook if there's a follow-up.
My sincerest appreciation to Amiee Gibbs, Grand Central Publishing, and NetGalley for the digital review copy. All thoughts and opinions included herein are my own.
Amiee Gibbs has built a community that gave me the same "feel" as when I read the first Harry Potter book. Characters pulled into a world one step outside the normal. You can't see it, but you can feel it and know that if you just turn your head a little......
Magic is at at the core of the story. A famous traveling carnival that features some magical people and shows that leave the crowds wanting more. A few lucky, wealthy, from the audience will be invited behind the curtains whee the real magic happens.....for a price. You can hear the music and feel the tension as you hold your breath for fear of missing the "tada" moment. But you had to have missed something, no one can do this on their own. As the story deepens, you'll be unable to set the book down. You have to know what will happen next......read the book to find out.
I was really excited to get this one, and I did like it, it just started off so slow. It picked up though around the 50% mark and I really enjoyed it!
Unfortunately, I DNF'd this at 35%. The writing style did not work for me. It was showy, and the worldbuilding bogged down the plot. I never connected with the characters. I can see some people enjoying this, but for me, it didn't work.
The Carnivale of Curiosities is a dark and gritty tale, exposing the gruesome and awful deeds people will do to hide the truth.
Gibbs built an incredible atmosphere with her prose. The Carnivale was imaginative and vivid in detail, leaping off the pages. The grim truth of 1887 London was thinly veiled in a clever way. I was simultaneously seeing the real London and the illusion of respectability it tried to cast. Overall, it was reminiscent of The Night Circus in tone.
While the prose built a magnificent world, it hindered the story. I had a hard time truly getting into the plot. At first, the wordiness seemed to hide a weak plot, but as I got further into the story, it became twisted and convoluted. It took about half the book for me to really immerse myself in the mystery and twisted power plays of the characters.
I wish I had gotten to know the characters better. There were too many key players introduced. As I started to sink into one perspective, it would switch to another. While I had strong reactions to the villains, and loved the moral dubiousness of the others, I wanted to know more about them.
Please, check trigger warnings before you read this one. It was darker and gloomier than I anticipated.
TW: incest, rape, violence, gore.
Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Did you love Night Circus? Well this is a book for you! A dark and mysterious magical circus has captured many readers. The Carnival of Curiosities needs to be added to your TBR pile immediatly!
I absolutely love the idea behind this book. The premise sounded fascinating, and I love any story involving a somehow otherworldly circus. However, I had to finally admit defeat with the reality of the book. Something about Gibbs' writing style didn't work for me at all. There was no natural rhythm to the prose, and I kept stumbling over sentences, trying to force them into making sense in my mind. I never succeeded.
This book is full of mystery and a full array of characters.
I felt very lost in the beginning of this book with all the different characters. It was a struggle to keep up and rememeber who was who.
This book would be perfect for those who like an intricate plot with many characters and situations.
Thank you to the publishers and Netgalley. These are my personal thoughts.
A victorian gothic tale of a magical circus with a creepy backstage show. A great storyline and well-developed characters.
Thank you NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for the ARC.
With atmospherically rich effect, Amiee Gibbs’ Carnivale of Curiosities combines gothic Victorian historical with dark fantasy. Among entertainments offered in Gibbs’ fantastical London of 1887, one stands out, the carnivale of the novel’s title. Gibbs interweaves a biting social critique into her plot as the highest echelons of society voyeuristically attend, “slumming it” in the worst city district to see freakish bodies performing astounding stunts and more. In contrast to that dark satire, Gibbs reveals the central theme of importance of family when she takes readers inside this circus’ life. These “freaks” with conjoined bodies, dog fur, or the ability to generate fire from fingertips or disappear in an instant, have built a family by choice that understands love and loyalty far better than the natural families also depicted. Gibbs builds this heart-warming strand without sentimentality. Family is both a source of strength and the primary driver of conflict in the novel. Another of the novel’s premises, created organically and believably, is that magic is real, and interacting with magic has genuine consequences, both good and bad. At the circus’s core is Aurelius Ashe, a character drawn in the tradition of Dr. Faustus. He grants wishes. When approached to restore the health of a young woman, ward of an influential banker, Ashe gradually realizes he’s agreed to more than he bargained for. In essence, the novel asks, will the evil that bubbles just below the surface of humans win out, or will magic? And that magic is wielded by a suspiciously devilish man, but one who’s built a remarkable family. If good and bad are hard to define in this world, that is clearly Gibbs’ clever intent. A nuanced dive into humanity by means of fantastical history.
#CarnivalofCuriosities by @amieengibbs is a fabulous #read perfect for fans of The Night Circus and Hotel Magnifique featuring a traveling circus, magical performers, secrets, and vengeance.
Thanks to @chasing.english who first posted about this #book and put it on my #reading radar. I was hooked from the first line, “It took three hours to kill Charlotte Bainbridge.” Full of memorable, likable, enigmatic characters found family, empowerment of those long ostracized for their “otherness” I loved that this book continued to reveal layers upon layers as one read deeper. In Victorian London a traveling sideshow of enormous reputation and appeal has returned for a limited run. Rumors of real, darker magic available for a price after hours draw an audience with different appetites.
Thanks #netgalley @grandcentralpub for the opportunity to preview this title out now in the US.
I mean, if you're looking for a dark, magical circus, look no further. This book was perfectly atmospheric and really intriguing. Honestly, from the first pages, I was entranced by where this story would go and its characters. Sometimes, I did feel like I got a little bored (mostly in the middle), but overall, this is a really cool fantasy book that I think will definitely stand out to the many circusy books there are. I really liked the characters most of all and it was nice to have such an ensemble cast that you couldn't help but root for. I loved the creativity in this and I really would love to read more from this author in the future!
I tried to get into this book on two different occasions and just couldn't get very far into it. I saw it being compared to Addie LaRue which is one of my absolute favorites and what inspired me to request this. The story seemed intriguing and atmospheric. So promising!
Unfortunately, I found the writing heavy and wordy, the plot to be slow moving, and I didn't immediately connect to the characters. I did not finish, but may pick it up again in the future when I can perhaps appreciate it better. If so, I will update my feedback to reflect my full thoughts.
If you're a fan of the Illusionist/The Prestige/Ripper Street/etc pick up this book! I listened to it on audio and the narrator is fantastic, reminded me a lot of the iconic Jim Dale on the Harry Potter audios. This is a story about a girl, stuck in a world not geared toward women in the 1800s but also with magic. I'm not into regency romance at all, but give me a story set in the less than impressive areas of the 1800s and I'm all for it. This isn't a romance, this isn't a fantasy. It's a story set in a real time and place with some fantastical elements but all the more real because of it.
The Carnivale of Curiosities lush descriptions made for an incredibly immersive magic circus read. This troup of inclusive misfits lead a dark, intriguing story. Their tale was slow building, causing my interest to wane by the middle of the book. It also got a bit twisted and confusing.
Strange things go on with this circus. Thank you Grand Central Publishing for the complimentary copy.