Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews's Reviews > Carniepunk

Carniepunk by Rachel Caine
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Jul 21, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: 2013-releases, anthologies
Read in July, 2013

*Overall Rating* 3.5

I was more than happy to receive Carniepunk from the publisher in both a finished copy as well as E-ARC via Edelweiss. There were a few authors I did not know, nor have I read anything by them previous to reading their short stories. Authors like Kevin Hearne, Jackie Kessler, Hillary Jacques, & Mark Henry. I actually liked Hearne's story so I may try to catch up on his Iron Druid series soon. One of the sexiest stories of this anthology came from Jackie Kessler. Definitely for the PNR lovers out there.

The fun part of Carniepunk is that I follow, on a regular basis, all the rest of the authors that submitted a short story to this anthology. As I have done in the past, I'm breaking down each story and will give you an idea of whether I liked the story, or it was Bleh!

Rob Thurman's "Painted Love" starts off the Carniepunk anthology. It's a short story about a demon named Doodle who travels the world and tries to take in new sights and ideas. His moto is "Watch but don't participate. Don't get involved." He can't help but get involved when a creeper targets a young girl, and he ends up falling in love with the girls older sister and saves them both from the creeper. It's rather a dark, creepy, and sinister way to start out the anthology. B-

Delilah Dawson's "The Three Lives of Lydia" is a short story that apparently takes place before Wicked as they Come since it also has Criminy Stain and the Maestro and yet no Tish. Lydia Beckwith arrives in Sang and is found by Charlie Dregs a Bludman who takes an immediate shining to Lydia, and the romance is instantaneous. One of the most interesting things about this series, and story is that it feels as though it is a take on Alice in Wonderland where a normal falls asleep and ends up in Sang where they are known as Strangers. B+

Kevin Hearne's "The Demon Barker on Wheat Street" supposedly takes place 6 years after Tricked, book # 4 in the Iron Druid Chronicles, and 2 weeks after the short story Two Raven and One Crow. Atticus, his dog Oberon, and his apprentice of 6 weeks Granuaile MacTiernan, travel to Kansas so that she can check up on her mother. Atticus has a dispute with a local element named Amber, but when Atticus, Oberon, & Granuaile discover demons and ghouls at the local carnival that are apparently gathering souls for the reaping, Amber puts away her hurt feelings and helps Atticus defeat the Demons. I haven't read anything by Kevin previous to this, and therefore I can't say whether or not this is in par with his other works. I will say that it's an interesting story, and may lead me to revisit my thoughts on reading this series in the future. B

"The Sweeter the Juice" by Mark Henry is set in New York City. The story is being called "a post-apocalyptic zombie horror-comedy, with drug-addicted trannies and port wine stains." The main character is Jade Reynolds, a transgendered person who is looking for a formula to transform him into her. Strange, strange story where so called normal people attack and eat the undead. Henry is another author I haven't had the pleasure, or displeasure of reading previous works. C

"Werewife" by Jaye Wells features a couple Brad & Annie who have a horrendous year after Annie is bitten after she visited Carnival Diabolique and turns into a werewolf. Brad pretty much goes through hell and has to clean up Annie's messes. I wasn't sure who I was supposed to cheer for. Annie is a tough nut to crack, while Brad is longing for a return to normality. Overall, I'll give this story a B-

"The Cold Girl" by Rachel Caine is the story about a 16 year old girl named Kiley Reynolds who finds herself in a difficult situation after her supposed love of her life Jamie tries to end her life at the Carnival. I'm pretty sure you can guess who the Cold Girl is if you are a fan of Caine's. This story is by far the best I've read in this anthology. It's dark. It's true to what we've come to expect from Caine's work. A-

"A Duet with Darkness" by Allison Pang is a short story about Abby Sinclair's best friend Melanie St. James a violin player who went head to head with the devil and lost the love of her life. It answers a bunch of questions that the Abby Sinclair series failed to mention. I'll give it a B-/C+ because it was sold as an Abby Sinclair short story when it wasn't. I've always found Melanie to be such an interesting character, that it's a shame that it took a short story to find out more about her.

"Parlor Tricks" by Jennifer Estep. Gin and her sister Bria go to the Carnival of Wondrous Wonders looking for a missing teenager, and Gin once again gets to kill people! I loved how Gin focused on food; Corn dogs with spicy mustard, fries, cinnamon sugared pretzel, and a cone of cherry cotton candy! Made ME want to go to a local carnival and pig out! I also liked the fact that Gin and Bria are closer than ever and do whatever they can to protect each other. Short and Sweet A-

"Feral House" Kelly Meding features Shiloh Harrison as she searches for her Djinn father who went missing and is later discovered as part of a traveling carnival involving paranormal beings who are exhibited to humans who pay an exorbitant fee. Totally different from her Dreg City series which I love. I think this one may have potential to move on further into a new series if Meding decides to do so in the future. B

"The Inside Man" by Nicole Peeler takes place in the same universe as her Jane True series. It features Capitola Jones, Moo, and Shar Private Investigators who specialize in the paranormal as they are hired by a mob boss to figure out what happened to his sister and family. When all is said and done, there is an evil clown that sucks souls and memories from people after luring them with old magic. Overall a solid short story which I give a B rating to.

Hillary Jacques‘ Recession of the Divine - passed on. May come back and read it at a later time. It's a short story about a muse and goddesses, carnivals and murder.

"A Chance In Hell" by Jackie Kessler is a short story that focuses on former succubus turned mortal named Jezebel. Since I have NOT read anything previous to this story, it's hard to understand if this character has been in anything else as a main character, or secondary character. I will say that this is the sexiest story by far. There is also the fact that Jezebel has a secondary mission and that is to fight the King of the Pit while wielding a Erinyes blessed sword. There is so much to say about the setting of a carnival run by demons like lust, greed, and gluttony running around a carnival trying to lure unsuspecting humans to sell their souls and Jezebel's attempt to save her housemate. B-

"Hell's Menagerie" by Kelly Gay takes place in the same world as her Charlie Madigan series. It features Charlie's 12 year old daughter Emma, Rex, and Emma's hellhound Brimstone. Emma is on a mission to rescue Brimstone's puppies in Charbydon (Hell) and Rex is dragged along for the ride. I loved Emma and her abilities and determination in saving captured rare animals. This story was truly amazing for the shortness of it. I could definitely see this as being part of the Charlie Magigan series which sadly appears to have ended after book # 5. A- (This story actually takes place at the same time Charlie is off world trying to save her partner Hank.)

"Daughter of the Midway, The Mermaid, and The Open Lonely Sea" by Seanan McGuire. Such an intriguing premise to this story that surrounds a teenager named Ada who grew up surrounded by the Carnival knowing that her mother was a Mermaid. When they return to the place where Ada was supposedly born, the carnival is forced to make a decision stay and hope Ada isn't discovered, or pick up stakes and leave Alabama behind. B-

*Recvd via Edelweiss 04/01/2013* Expected publication: July 23rd 2013 by Gallery Books
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Reading Progress

07/19/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/20/2013 page 189
42.0% ""The Cold Girl" by Rachel Caine is the story about a 16 year old girl named Kiley Reynolds who finds herself in a difficult situation after her supposed love of her life Jamie tries to end her life at the Carnival. Definitely worth the read. A-"
07/20/2013 page 219
48.0% "Allison Pang's "A Duet With Darkness" is sold as an Abby Sinclair short, but the story is about Violin player Melanie St. James who is Abby's best friend. B-"
07/20/2013 page 279
62.0% ""Parlor Tricks" by Jennifer Estep should be called, Gin & Bria go to the Carnival of Wondrous Wonders and discover more than they bargained for. Short, but right to the point. A-"
07/21/2013 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH This is one of my favorite anthologies so far. Now you need to complete the experience and read Stephen King's Joyland. These two books go very well together.


Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews AH wrote: "This is one of my favorite anthologies so far. Now you need to complete the experience and read Stephen King's Joyland. These two books go very well together."

I'll see if I can find it at my library and borrow it. Been looking at the reviews. Haven't read anything by King in a very, very long time.


message 3: by AH (new) - rated it 4 stars

AH Shelley wrote: "AH wrote: "This is one of my favorite anthologies so far. Now you need to complete the experience and read Stephen King's Joyland. These two books go very well together."

I'll see if I can find it..."


Either had I. It's quite well done and I had been avoiding King. The audio version is nicely done.


message 4: by Melindeeloo (new) - added it

Melindeeloo great review:) I've been curious about this one since the line up was stellar. Oh, since you mentioned this, Jezebel was the lead in Kessler's Hell on Earth series.


Shelley aka Gizmo's Reviews Melindeeloo wrote: "great review:) I've been curious about this one since the line up was stellar. Oh, since you mentioned this, Jezebel was the lead in Kessler's Hell on Earth series."

Thank you on all counts :) Jezebel is an interesting character and I really wanted to know if she met her goals in the end.


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