The Carnivale of Curiosities

Posted July 17, 2023 by Carole in Reviews / 9 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Carnivale of CuriositiesThe Carnivale of Curiosities by Amiee Gibbs
Narrator: James Langton
Published by Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Audio on July 11, 2023
Genres: Fiction / Fantasy / Historical
Length: 14 hours 13 minutes
Pages: 448
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

“Unique and emotionally engaging” (Booklist, Starred Review), a dazzling gothic tale of Faustian bargains, jealousy, and murder set in a spectacular circus, where star-crossed lovers' destinies are forged at an unexpected price: "A wonderfully imagined and fiendishly clever debut" (Colson Whitehead).

In Victorian London, where traveling sideshows are the very pinnacle of entertainment, there is no more coveted ticket than Ashe and Pretorius' Carnivale of Curiosities. Each performance is a limited engagement, and London's elite boldly dare the dangerous streets of Southwark to witness the Carnivale's astounding assemblage of marvels. For a select few, however, the real show begins behind the curtain. Rumors abound that the show’s proprietor, Aurelius Ashe, is more than an average magician. It's said that for the right price, he can make any wish come true. No one knows the truth of this claim better than Lucien the Lucifer, the Carnivale's star attraction. Born with the ability to create fire, he's dazzled spectators since he was a boy.

When Odilon Rose, one of the most notorious men in London, comes calling with a proposition regarding his young and beautiful charge, Charlotte, Ashe is tempted to refuse. After revealing, however, that Rose holds a secret that threatens the security of the troupe's most vulnerable members, Ashe has no choice but to sign an insidious contract.
The stakes grow higher as Lucien finds himself drawn to Charlotte and her to him, an attraction that spurs a perilous course of events. Grave secrets, recovered horrors, and what it means to be family come to a head in this vividly imagined spectacle—with the lives of all those involved suspended in the balance.

Includes a Reading Group Guide.

I ended up really enjoying this book! I started out listening to the audiobook and found that I was a bit confused so I decided to go back to the beginning and follow along in the book while a listened to the audio which proved to be a much better experience. I really enjoyed the magic of the carnival and couldn’t wait to see how things would work out in the end.

There is a pretty large cast of characters in this story. Charlotte’s guardian, Odilon Rose, brings her to Aurelius Ashe, who runs the Carnivale of Curiosities. Charlotte is in ill health and after exhausting other avenues Odilon has to to Aurelius for a possible cure. We get to meet all of the key players in the Carnivale with Lucien playing a key role. I liked the way that the story slowly unraveled allowing the reader to learn the backstories of the characters as we worked our way through the story. When all of the pieces fell into place, there were more than a few surprises. The Victorian London was incredibly well done and I liked that we got to see the poorer side of town in addition to the more wealthy area such as where Odilon Rose resides.

I believe that this was my first experience with James Langton’s narration. I thought that he had a very nice range and like the voices that he used while reading the story. I had trouble keeping up with the larger cast of characters with the audiobook alone but once I really got to know the various characters, I had no issue with the audiobook. I would not hesitate to listen to more of this narrator’s work in the future.

I would recommend this book to others. It was an entertaining story full of secrets, magic, and Faustian bargains. I thought that the book was incredibly well written and look forward to future works by this talented authors.

I received a review copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing and Hachette Audio.

9 responses to “The Carnivale of Curiosities

  1. Ooh nice! I was curious about this one as it sounded pretty mysterious! Glad to see it was an enjoyable read once you did the audio/book combo! I always wonder if this is how I should try an audio book! But I guess not knowing my narrators I wouldn’t know what a good one would be to try out! I’ll have to keep my eye out for this one! Nice review!

  2. I always feel a bit guilty if I get both eARC and an audiobook ARC but sometimes they really are better together. Also I don’t always know if I will get one or the other with some publishers.

  3. This sounds good! The setting sounds fantastic and good to know that you were able to eventually keep the large cast straight. That can be an issue!

  4. Carnivals, especially ones with magic, are always a huge draw for me…ever since I read Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes a thousand years ago. This one is definitely going on my TBR list. 😀