Noyes's latest anthology (Gothic!
, 2007) showcases freaks, once a celebrated standard in traveling shows and theater. The included stories range from David Almond's view into a more innocent time, when the difference between a circus Swami and God was hard to distinguish and all magic was possible, to Margo Lanagan's outstanding tale of a lovelorn dwarf who is stronger than a seemingly normal visitor. Annette Curtis Klause has contributed a stand-alone sequel to her novel Freaks
(2006), while Aimee Bender's bearded girl likes her beard. Three of the entries are by renowned graphic novelists. Matt Phelan's excellent "Jargo" draws the haunting and wistful story of a creature too strange even for a sideshow tent. Strangely, two stories have nothing to do with sideshows or circus freaks—Vivian Vande Velde's ghost story features a psychic, while Cecil Castellucci's weirdly wonderful "The Bread Starter" showcases just that—and many of the stories, while "odd and magical," are only tangentially sideshow-themed. From a thematic perspective the collection is a bit of a mess; from a writing perspective it's excellent. (introduction, contributor biographies) (Anthology. 13 & up)Read full book review >