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The Phantom Twin

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  50 reviews
A young woman is haunted by the ghost of her conjoined twin, in Lisa Brown's The Phantom Twin, a sweetly spooky graphic novel set in a turn-of-the-century sideshow.

Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak showuntil an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane's death.

Isabel has lost an arm
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by First Second
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
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✨Brithanie Faith✨
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5/5 stars rounded up ⭐⭐⭐.5

Early copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Phantom Twin was a gentle reminder that I need to read more graphic novels, because I always end up devouring them in one sitting- and then waiting several months before picking another one up.

What I loved the most about this particular graphic novel was Isabel's growth as she learns how to navigate life without her sister (and conjoined twin) Jane- and the beautiful art style that is used to
Candace Robinson
Graphic novels are always iffy for me because I feel like I need more, but I really like this one! Especially the carnival setting!

The drawings were also beautiful and easy to follow along with the sometimes-heartbreaking story of these conjoined twins.

I also loved getting to see the carnival acts as well as the emotion between sisters, etc. There was prejudice involved from some of the people that would see the acts but who really got the last laugh because those customers were out money? Very
Sheila Goicea
I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher, First Second, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! In no way does this affect my rating or review.


Content Warning: Exploitation, Death of a loved one, Prejudice, Attempted burglary

The Phantom Twin is an incredibly easy story to get into. I read this graphic novel in one sitting, in less than an hour. I devoured it. Set in 1920s America, the travelling freak show was a major crowd-drawer. Back then, the world looked very
kelly {BookCrushin}
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-release
This review was originally published on

The Phantom Twin is one of those stories that is just really sad yet weird and you are so proud of the main character by the end. Such amazing growth. There are some tough plot points in this book, like exploitation and abuse, but I feel like the author took a lot of time and research to do the subject matter justice.

Jane and Isabel were born conjoined twins and they were exploited for this fact. They were a part of a traveling sideshow
Sandy O'Brien
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im am always looking to add graphic novels to my class library because my students this year have been devouring them.

The Phantom Twin is a story that will not only pull readers in but will also have them sharing with their peers.

The story of conjoined twins that are a park of a traveling freak show who decide that they want to get surgery to be separated but only one survives. The story tells of the struggle that the remaining twin goes through all while having her phantom twin try to push her
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Its been a while since Ive read a graphic novel in one sitting, but this one was gripping! It may have been the idea of a phantom twin, or the sideshow setting, or even the old-school tattoo parlor; most likely a combination of all of the above and the fact that I was drawn (pun intended) to all the characters.

I have pre-ordered a physical copy and will count down the days until its release.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 rating
Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with the finish copy! I enjoyed this graphic novel. It touched topics such as prejudices, labor abuse, grieving, detachment, and overcoming your own demons. Super easy to read, would love to read more from this author.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Phantom Twin explores how a former conjoined twin makes her way forward in life after her sister dies on the operating table. Isabel was always the one being dragged along with her sister Janes ideas, and now she has to figure out what to do next. Even with Janes ghost for company, life is definitely a challenge.

This wasnt quite what I was expecting, because it was more on the dark than cute side. The art had a retro feel to it, which fit right in with the carnival setting and clothing style. I
Isabel and Jane are so-called Siamese twins. conjoined along their sides, they are rejected by their parents and go to live at a circus, literally becoming part of the sideshow act. When they are young adults, Jane, who is by far the more opinionated and demanding sister, who wants to date (they do already but it's understandably awkward) and not be dragged down by her more reticent and reluctant sister, arranges for them to have separation surgery. This is a very new and experimental thing (I ...more
Superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

A young woman is haunted by the ghost of her conjoined twin, in Lisa Brown's The Phantom Twin, a sweetly
Nov 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This eerie tale of twins, sideshows, and hauntings is perfect for tweens and teens who love their books on the creepier side. If you have readers who loved Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Coraline, or loved Mary Downing Hahn's books, this is the book to hand them. 

At the turn of the 20th century, Isabel and Jane are conjoined twins, sold to a sideshow by their family, where they find a family among the "freaks" in the freak show. The two sisters are opposites, with Jane being the dominant
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a cute graphic novel about hope and finding yourself and strength. The author, Lisa Brown, has a note at the end about freak shows and their popularity, but also about the racism, ableism, and ethnocentrism that these shows supported. Brown researched some of the real life performers, and dove into the hard lives of these people. A lot of them were not treated well and used by the owners of these shows. As she researched, she also found that there were stories of among them ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jane and Isabel (aka Janiss) are conjoined twins. After their father sells them into the circus, they find life difficult but they also find a family among the other freaks. Jane has always had more control over the twins' shared arm and leg and dreams of a non-freakish life, so when a doctor comes along promising that he can separate them, Jane forces Issa to undergo the operation. When Issa wakes up, she discovers that Jane died during the surgery, and now she has to go through life as a ...more
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an advance copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

This was a really interesting graphic novel that is a cross between paranormal and historical fiction. The author clearly researched a good deal about the early freak shows so this book never feels offensive or like she is looking down on the people who performed in these acts. The book begins with us meeting Isabel or "Iss" as she wakes up from surgery to remove her conjoined twin. Upon
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the arc of this book I received in exchange for a fair and honest review.

It was adorable.

I know that sounds a bit condescending as some of the subject matternamely, the historical treatment of people with physical disabilities, or basically anything that othered thembut honestly, at its heart, this book was about something far more simple. It was about the struggle to find yourself when you feel lost, to learn to accept help when you need it, to
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen, graphic-novel
Jane and Isabelle are conjoined twins whose parents have sold them off to a Freak Show. Jane desperately wants to be free and separated physically from her sister and opts to have surgery to make that happen. Unfortunately, the doctor takes a risk he is not prepared for and Jane dies, leaving Isabelle without her. Janes voice remains with Isabelle throughout the story and tries to help Isabelle when she is naive to the shenanigans of other people. The heart of this graphic novel is pointing out ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable art, a heroine you root for, a humanizing view of people often forgotten or mocked. Better than Evelyn Evelyn: A Tragic Tale in Two Tomes. Isabel is haunted both literally and figuratively, making bad choices along the way that are at once very understandable and have you frustrated with her. Recommendations for further reading and some info about "freak shows" in the back are greatly appreciated. This is a bit difficult to review because for once I don't feel like I have a lot to say ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I grew up learning about sideshows and the performers from my grandfather, who spent some time as an acrobat in the 40s, so I was immediately drawn to this title.

Jane, Issy, and all of their performer friends are a lovely cast of characters with an intense sense of community, and Brown does a great job of giving us an insight into the ins and outs of life on the road where one is not often accepted. Issys journey throughout the title (Ill avoid spoilers here) also highlights the universality of
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Edelweiss+ provided me a DRC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was original, haunting, and emotional. The story follows Isabel, a former conjoined twin trying to find her way in the world now that she and her sister are no longer connected. She doesn't feel like she belongs with the carnival "freaks" anymore, nor does she feel accepted in the "normal" world. The artwork is a little dark and and somewhat chilling, but it complements the mood of the story.

There are a few somewhat
Christy Broderick
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting graphic novel for young readers to adults. Thanks again to NetGalley and First Second for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for feedback.

Isabel and Jane are conjoined twins that are a part of a traveling carnival freak show. One day, Jane and Isabel decide to have surgery to separate them, but something tragic happens to Jane. Isabel now has to live life on her own, with the help of her friends from the freak show and a new friend who accepts Isabel as her own
Jamie Lovett
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Phantom Twin is the story of Isabel, born a conjoined twin with her sister Jane. The two work in a freak show until separation surgery kills Jane. Isabel has to learn to move on even though she still senses her sister like a phantom limb. Lisa Browns graphic novel offers a look at what its like to live as part of an outsider family, and also what its like to grow apart from that found family. Its a satisfying tale full of triumphs and tragedies with artwork that captures the feeling of the ...more
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher I was able to read this in exchange for an honest review.
The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown is a beautifully heartbreaking but also heartwarming graphic novel about Isabel being haunted by her conjoined twin Jane whom she loses when they attempt to separate.
Raised in a freak show they knew nothing else and now without her other half Isabel now has to relearn who she is and what she wants.
For as sad as the story was it was also hopeful, it was about family,
Meredith Ann
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a spooky surprise. I wasn't sure what to expect - all I knew was the title and that conjoined twins were the focus. The story pulls you in immediately; it doesn't take much time to get right into the plot. The art is perfect for the time period and the story, very atmospheric. I appreciated the author's note at the end. It's obvious in her storytelling how much respect she has for the people she's writing about and how much care she took to be historically accurate as well. The Phantom ...more
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't read teen books, and I really don't read teen romance, so if I hadn't been shelving that day ( and the bookstore I work at, duh) I never would've seen this book. It caught my attention and stuck in my head. A few days later, I bought it on a whim and it took just a few hours to read it. Great story idea, interesting subject. I think the author could've gone deeper in some areas...but ...its quick and light and different and I liked it!
Dani Kass
The Phantom Twin broke my heart constantly. The pain of not having any agency, of losing the person closest to you, of not knowing what to do once you have agency and then losing it again. It's so beautifully told, and has a great, happy ending.

I really love stories about sideshows that emphasize how fucked up they are by looking at the bigger picture, not by making fun of the freaks, and this does that really well.
Mar 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-graphic-novel
A set of siamese twins are sold to the circus by their parents. This works well in graphic form - the drawings are simple and easy to follow, and the storyline is just enough. They are taken advantage of and promised a filling life if they let a doctor do an experimental procedure and separate them. One of them dies, and the other must continue on without her sister, though the ghost of her continues on. Recommended.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Debut graphic novel by Lisa Brown

We follow conjoined twins, Jane and Iss, who work for a sideshow act. Jane wants to have surgery to be separated. The result is Janes death and Isabel trying to move forward with Janes ghost.
I truly enjoyed this GN. It was a fast easy read. I loved the artwork throughout. I really liked the feel good ending.

Thank you to Macmillan for my early finished copy. Opinions are my own.
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
The story of conjoined twins Isabel and Jane who are sold to a side show. Interesting fictional look into old side shows and how the people were treated. Isabel has to learn how to get along being alone after a failed separation operation.
I enjoyed this graphic novel and read it in one sitting. If you are interested in the side show era, I would recommend it.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown is a sad story but it also about hope and growth. I was pleasantly surprised how much this story touched me since it was a graphic novel. I enjoyed the artwork, it was a little dark and some parts mature but was well done. Thank you @01firstsecond for my free finished copy!
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This is such a heartbreaking/warming graphic novel. Isabel and Jane's story, as well as the stories of the others in their family of "freaks," are tragic but hopeful. The illustrations were lovely and I think quite respectful to the people depicted.

Thanks to First Second and NetGalley for the eARC.
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LISA BROWN is the bestselling illustrator and/or author of a growing number of books, including How to Be, The Latke Who Couldnt Stop Screaming, and Baby Mix Me a Drink. She draws the Three Panel Book Review cartoon for the book section of the San Francisco Chronicle. Lisa lives in San Francisco with her son and her husband, who is rumored to be Lemony Snicket. ...more

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