BOOK TOUR Review: “Carnival Keepers” by Amber Gulley

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

It’s All Hallows Eve and the Carnival has returned as it does each year, though this carnival is unlike any other in 1879 London. Strange things abound and spread throughout the town. James, on a mission to win a bet made with his friend Alex that has multiple quests to complete in one day, is refusing to stop his task due to the bizarre happenings in his town. Forces seem to be conspiring to keep James away from the carnival, while others work to bring him to it.  While the carnival keepers enjoy their yearly visit to London, and the feast so easily found on its streets and walking into their mists, some work to just get through the day before the carnival leaves again.

This is a strange horror story placed in Victorian England. James seems to be the main character and his portion of the story is in first person, though there are many characters we watch weave through the story. The carnival keepers are not human and many delight in the destruction of the mortals around them. For some reason James is a main goal. Many seek him, for good or for bad, it is hard to follow why. Being the indulged child of a wealthy family, he is more concerned with drinking, winning the bet and thoughts of his girl Laura, who he plucked from the streets and turned from a tart into a lady in waiting.

This story has great bones to be an amazing horror tale, but it lacks the threads to draw the whole thing together. There are characters placed into the story with no motivation which only seem to be there to end up dead. From the detective that starts following James, for no defined reason, to the cousin Emily, who never serves a purpose, I searched for a reason behind their appearance and never found it. I was more confused reading this story than captivated.

The author has an incredible talent for bringing her world to life. The fog-lined streets of London in their filth and clutter are easily pictured in one’s mind.  The hiss of gas lights and the smell of the stagnant air in the refuse-choked cobblestone alleys are the scene of supernatural creatures enjoying a gore filled meal of urchins and nobles alike. I just wish that there was more reason given for why the carnival keepers behaved the way they did. Why did none of the mortal characters react by seeking help, or fleeing the terrifying events in the plagued city?

 

As the carnival ends and the night is over, there is no conclusion to the events or explanation to the characters’ motivations. I pushed through the story hoping for clarity and was simply left puzzled.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

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