In 1987, a traveling carnival sideshow with supernaturally gifted performers faces a deadly threat.
The traveling carnival that Mara calls home has seen better days—a dry spell’s left them in danger of completely running out of funds. Luckily, they have a gig booked in the small town of Caudry, Louisiana. Right away, though, the supernaturally sensitive pick up on something strange. Mara has a chance run-in with a hot local, Gabe, but what chance does love have when she knows she will move on at the end of the week? That is, if she survives—some mysterious creature is attacking the campground where the carnies are staying in ways that increasingly seem to be targeted. Sometimes the plot seems to be in a holding pattern (as, after attacks, the carnies and performers reiterate the fact that they need the money too badly to leave), but that works well in the buildup to the physical consummation of Mara and Gabe’s relationship—less well, though, in the climax, final reveal, and seemingly stand-alone ending that passes too quickly. Though the immediate setting reads more generic small-town than southern Louisiana, the overall magic world is entertaining. Both of the romantic leads are people of color: Mara is mixed race, of Egyptian and Indian heritage; Latino Gabe’s father is Venezuelan.
The magic-and-carnival combination make for a pleasant if not spectacular diversion. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)