Ernst and Sigafus’ (The Mida, 2014) supernaturally gifted carnies return to help one of their own free his wife from vengeful gangsters.
In August 1934, mob doctor Carter decides he wants out. With the help of their friend Walter, Carter and his wife, Genevieve, make a run for it. After the mob discovers their plan, however, Genevieve is captured, Walter goes into hiding, and Carter finds himself rescued by a mysterious carnival called the Mida. Led by the Ojibwa healer Mesa, the Mida travels throughout time, returning to the places from which its members fled so that they can confront their pasts. Its tents have now gone up in St. Paul, Minnesota, two weeks after Carter’s botched escape. Believing his wife to be dead, Carter tracks down Walter, who reveals that Genevieve is alive but in the clutches of the mob. Carter calls upon his fellow carnies—including “creature-whisperer” Frank and seer Connor—to help rescue his wife, even though their reunion means Carter must leave the carnival behind forever. Genevieve, meanwhile, murders her gangster captor Charles Watson, prompting Watson’s underling Joseph Morgan—a hardened mobster in love with Genevieve—to hide her from Leon Gleckman, the “Al Capone of St. Paul.” Compared to their previous book, which took on narratives by the boatload, this time around, Ernst and Sigafus wisely zero in on the dramatic twists and turns of Carter’s quest. The story’s emotional core—whether to embrace or shun intimacy when life requires you to be constantly on the move—reverberates throughout, particularly in the romantic subplot between Walter and smitten, reluctant Carlotta, the Mida’s resident “cooch dancer.” Though this newfound focus is a welcome improvement, it does have a drawback: the prominent storylines from the Mida’s earlier adventure—the tense reunion of Mesa and her son Tony; the constant threat of the evil spirit Jiibay, who dreams of controlling the carnival for nefarious purposes—either appear fleetingly or show up abruptly in the third act.
Despite an overstuffed finale, the Mida gang’s
latest proves a tighter, more emotionally involving installment than its