Format Read: eGalley (I was about 2/3 of the way done when the pub sent a finished print copy)
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Blurb from goodreads:
A star-studded urban fantasy anthology featuring bestselling authors Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman, Seanan McGuire, Jennifer Estep, and Kevin Hearne, whose stories explore the creepy, mysterious, and, yes, sometimes magical world of traveling carnivals.
The traveling carnival is a leftover of a bygone era, a curiosity lurking on the outskirts of town. It is a place of contradictions—the bright lights mask the peeling paint; a carnie in greasy overalls slinks away from the direction of the Barker’s seductive call. It is a place of illusion—is that woman’s beard real? How can she live locked in that watery box?
And while many are tricked by sleight of hand, there are hints of something truly magical going on. One must remain alert and learn quickly the unwritten rules of this dark show. To beat the carnival, one had better have either a whole lot of luck or a whole lot of guns—or maybe some magic of one’s own.
Featuring stories grotesque and comical, outrageous and action-packed, Carniepunk is the first anthology to channel the energy and attitude of urban fantasy into the bizarre world of creaking machinery, twisted myths, and vivid new magic.
I'll do my usual anthology process and give a mini-review of each story. I was excited about this anthology as it has a mix of authors I love, authors I've been wanting to read and one I hadn't heard of before. All the stories involve carnivals to one degree or another, but the punk aspect is vaguer and missing completely from some of the stories. I've marked my favorites with an asterisk.
Painted Love by Rob Thurman - not what I expected, clever twist. I've had mixed results with Thurman's books but this was a strong story, and dark.
The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson -I hadn't read Dawson before but that wasn't a problem in reading the story, set in her Blud world. It was spooky yet sweet and I so did not see the ending coming!
The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne - Darker than the other Iron Druid stories but with trademark humor and characterization.I really felt for Granuaile and her desire to see her family.
The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry -Dark and a little confusing, depressing.
The Werewife by Jaye Wells - Interesting take on lycanthropy and a dysfunctional marriage. I felt for poor Brad, he tried so hard to be a good husband. I loved the ending. :D
The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine - A surprisingly sweet story with a happy ending.
A Duet with Darkness by Allison Pang -A prequel to her Abby Sinclair series, this one didn't wow me but it does give a glimpse into how Abby discovered her Wild Magic.
*Recession of the Divine by Hillary Jacques- I hadn't heard of Jacques before but I liked this story very much and want more; mostly unpredictable, nice update on Greek mythology, and an easy writing style.If there's more in this world, I want to read it.
Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep - The Elemental Assassin books have been on my Books to Try list for several years now and after reading this, they are higher up the list. There are some spoilers I'm sure but nothing too bad. Gin is smart and snarky and I liked Estep's style.
*Freak House by Kelly Meding - I read the first book in the Dreg City series and it didn't do anything for me but this, this I loved. The world, the characters, the writing, all wonderful. She's working on full-length books in this world and I am anxious for them to be picked up and pubbed.
The Inside Man by Nicole Peeler - A nice little paranormal mystery featuring Cap, Moo and Shar. Avoid this story if you don't like clowns. There's a brief appearance from Anyan. Also, avoid if rape, incest or sexual abuse are triggers for you.
A Chance in Hell by Jackie Kessler - Kessler's incubus books don't do it for me but this was okay. I didn't see the ending coming, which was a nice twist.
*Hell's Menagerie by Kelly Gay - A girl and her dog, what's not to love? This is another series I now want to read but the story works well as a stand alone. Emma and Rex are both clever and likable.
Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea by Seanan McGuire -A different take on mermaids. I felt sorry for Ada and Martha, I liked Seanan's portrayal of carnival life and if you're looking for a happy ending, skip this story. Families can be so difficult.