Book Review: Carniepunk

Image

Carniepunk consists of 14 short stories in a steampunk anthology with the theme of…wait for it…surprise, surprise…carnivals! My opinion is somewhat scattered along the spectrum, since the stories were written by 14 different authors. To make things simpler, I’ll be rating each story separately.

Overall, I feel like the themes are disjointed — too loosely connected in terms of the type of reader they’d appeal to. I don’t know how the stories were chosen and I’m sure it’s a very tough process, but I feel like the styles and moods decline in quality until a belated spike at the very end. But that’s just my opinion.

Painted Love by Robyn Urman (4/5)

  • very lyrical, bitingly beautiful writing style
  • balance between the harshness of reality and the wonder of moments
  • very interesting characters
  • striking plot twist makes you double back and think
  • psychological references
  • surreal time and place

The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson (4/5)

  • breathtakingly magical writing style: astounding word choices, heart-shattering imagery, descriptions interwoven with striking emotions
  • delightfully surreal mood
  • dark and wonderful setting — this is probably my favorite “carnival” of the whole anthology
  • also a nice slice of psychology
  • interesting and sad twist
  • my one complaint is the instalove — the instalove with Charlie just made the whole story shallower! It could have been a 5 but instalove peels back the story’s merits.

The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne (1/5)

  • I couldn’t get into it. Maybe because it’s part of a series
  • the conversations with the dog are amusing

The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry (2/5)

  • zombie apocalypse…typical stuff
  • nice and gory details
  • tries to be deep, somehow, but misses the point
  • redeeming try at being new — the main character is transsexual

The Werewife by Jaye Wells (2/5)

  • interesting, holds on to your attention till the end
  • entertaining with a hint of satire
  • not really extraordinary
  • lacking in thematic element
  • cliches

The Cold Girl by Roxanne Longstreet Conrad (1/5)

  • I remember reading about another reviewer describe it as  too “teenage”. Yes, it’s too typical. That annoying stock teenage girl voice, the abuse, the vampires…
  • It was trying too hard to be interesting
  • Cliches

A Duet with Darkness by Allison Pang (3/5)

  • interesting writing style, characters and premise
  • but just wasn’t presented in the right way; there was something off about the buildup and resolution
  • imbalance in climax

Recession of the Divine by Hillary Jacques (1/5)

  • could not get into it
  • confusing writing style

Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep (1/5)

  • could not get into it
  • feel like it was part of a story that already exists and if you haven’t read it, you won’t get it

Freak House by Kelly Meding (1/5)

  • couldn’t get into it
  • perhaps a bit too plot-heavy for a short story

The Inside Man by Nicole Peeler (1/5)

  • couldn’t get into it
  • might have a good plotline, but not for me

A Chance in Hell by Jackie Kessler (1/5)

  • couldn’t get into it
  • original, of sorts, I suppose, but not compelling for me

Hell’s Menagerie by Kelly Gay (1/5)

  • maybe it was a story meant for kids?
  • the emotions of it didn’t feel real for some reason, didn’t rise off the page and project themselves onto the reader

Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid and the Open, Lonely Sea (4/5) by Seanan McGuire

  • the writing was nice stuff, sprinkled with bits of striking imagery and the personality of the protagonist
  • intriguing premise
  • could have been something more mystical, more of the surreal, saltwater feel
  • emotions mixed in nicely
  • and the title is just wonderful

**eBook provided by Netgalley.com in exchange for my honest review

Advertisements

Currently Reading: Carniepunk

Image

Carniepunk is an anthology of short stories. Steampunk mixed with a bit of horror, urban fantasy and parnormal.

I’m not sure what I think of it yet (read through two of the stories), but the writing is mesmerizing so far. Both authors know to make you addicted to their writings. It’s not so much the plot (the plotlines are nothing amazing…dare I call them cliche?). But the words drown you — they’re bewitching and feral and full of tangled emotions. I’ve highlighted so much already.

I’ve never reviewed an anthology before, so I’m not quite sure how I’ll be formatting the review. Maybe rating each story separately, with a couple of thoughts on each? I can’t really judge the whole thing as one, since there are so many different authors.

Carniepunk might be something amazing. I’m not sure yet, but I’m gonna slow down my reading for Carniepunk. The words are so wonderful.

Update: Books on My Review List

All from Netgalley except for the last one (litpick):

  1. Whistling Past the Graveyard (adult fiction set in 1963, from a 9-year-old girl’s POV)
  2. Abandon Book 3: Awaken (YA fiction/paranormal romance by Meg Cabot, 3rd book in a Persephone-retelling trilogy. I did swear I would never ever read a paranormal romance again after I was too fed up with them — I’ve never liked one. But I reviewed the 1st book about three years ago, so we’ll see)
  3. Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself (self-help book that builds on principles of science)
  4. Aimless Love (a collection of poems by Billy Collins)
  5. Carniepunk (an anthology of steampunk carnival stories filled with darkness)
  6. Born to Blog (well, seeing as I’m just starting to blog, this should help…)
  7. The Boy Who Could See Demons (adult fiction, psychological thriller about a little boy who, well, can see demons)
  8. For the Good of Mankind (YA/teens, about the misuse of science and human experimentation)
  9. The Scroll of Years (adult fantasy/science fiction)

Update: Books On My Review List

I just went on a major Netgalley requesting spree — and lo and behold, my Kindle promises me many happy hours of reading and reviewing! There’s a beautiful variety there. I’m constantly trying to expand my reading sphere to find more “favorites.”

Two Books I’m Reading As of Today: Continue reading