Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Portia Remini is essentially an orphan. Her father ran off to follow a circus and her mother abandoned her long ago. Her distant, disapproving aunt eventually foists her off into a home for "wayward girls" run by a man known as Mister. He treats the girls as slave labor while looking like he's saving them. After a tragic accident and randomly finding the schedule card for it, Portia escapes on a stolen red bicycle to Mosco's Travelling Wonder Show, where she may find her father or be found by Mister, or find something else entirely.
I was immediately drawn in my the cover and the fact that it's about a circus. Wonder Show was a quick, fun read that touched on some deep and universal subjects. The characters were all amazing. It would be easy to demonize the sideshow "freaks" and make them into the monsters the crowd believes them to be. Although they don't mix well with the other circus performers, they were just regular people who want the same things as everyone else. They are neither perfectly good nor perfectly evil, but flawed. These characters were very often sad or angry, which I felt was realistic. Many of them couldn't do anything else because of their physical disabilities, so they were pretty much forced into a circus sideshow to make their living. I liked that the perspective would pass between characters every so often to provide to a glimpse into their mind.
Portia was a wonderful character who loved to tell stories and fairy tales, mixing and matching existing ones to make new ones or making her own entirely. Her imagination and creativity were amazing, but those around her didn't understand it and wanted her to rid herself of them and become a shell of herself. She saw the world through her own lens of fantasy and I enjoyed seeing her world through that lens. She also stood up for herself and had a firecracker of personality.
Wonder Show was hard to classify into one genre. It was a quest story mixed with gothic mystery, coming of age, Depression-era, and self discovery. Its only real flaw was that the ending felt a little rushed and I wanted it to be longer to more fully capture these characters and their relationships. I would definitely look for more releases by Hannah Barnaby.
My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins
** Wonder Show will be released 3/30. Check it out here. **