After being abandoned by her family a girl joins a traveling carnival teeming with dark and sinister secrets. Secrets that threaten to swallow her whole. Secrets that are far bigger than the small carnival appears able to hold.
Along the way we find ancient magics, a discovery of heritage, explorations on family and those we adopt as family, love, and battles with the demons inside us all. But is this traveling dark carnival story actually enjoyable? Stick with me, I think you’ll dig this one.
Author : Veronica Henry
Published June 1st, 2021 by 47North
Fantasy | Historical Fiction | Horror
Bacchanal takes us on a beautifully dark journey as the layers upon layers of mystery and story unfold.
On the surface we are presented with interesting characters and the looming threat of a demon that makes things feel like an ever present dark cloud is waiting to unleash it’s wrath at any minute.
The story, however, seems not to mind the dark cloud. Instead it draws us in deeper to the emotional connections to our characters. Not only do we see Eliza struggle with her power to communicate with animals, but we watch her learn to find her place in a world that seems to have abandoned her. Through love, grief, anger and frustration we watch Eliza truly grow into her own over the course of this story.
Of course, there are plenty of other great characters to flesh out the world of the G.B. Bacchanal Carnival. And Henry does a wonderful job of building this story into a world of characters that readers can actually care about and feel connected to.
What I found so interesting is that while the story takes place all over the southern United States, by and large it feels like the world is very small. Contained, in a way, within the confines of the carnival, within the characters that call the carnival home, and within the bubble of darkness closing around all of them.
Without giving away too much of the story and the surprises the journey takes us on, there is a feeling and mood to this book that was highly enjoyable. It has just the right amount of darkness and horror, both the “demon-style” horror and the horrors of people being awful to each other. That horror is coupled beautifully with the journey of self discovery and almost “coming of age” side of the story as Eliza grows to understand more of who she is.
Henry’s writing has a wonderful flow to it, a feeling of just enough richness to make the story feel steeped in legend while maintaining a straight-forward nature that makes it super approachable and enjoyable to read.
And really, what’s not to love about exploring a “dark carnival” setting for a story?
Sure, it’s been done before, but in Bacchanal we are given a story that feels at once intimately familiar and wholly unique, a testament to Veronica Henry’s beautiful way with words.
The only real gripe I have with the book is that we spend the majority of the book building to what should be an epic feeling climax. But when we get to the end, while I did enjoy the ending, it felt a bit unsatisfying. Of course your tastes may vary, but I was so invested in these characters I found myself wanting something more, something bigger, something to give me a little more time to say goodbye before the final pages.
Like I said, I enjoyed the ending, it was just over a little too soon as I really enjoyed the world these characters inhabited.
As such Bacchanal by Veronica Henry gets a 4 out of 5 stars.
If you like dark carnival stories with a healthy dose of magic, enjoyable characters to root for(or against), and a fairly fast paced story set in the historic southern United States during the Great Depression Era, I think you’ll really enjoy this book.
Have you read Bacchanal by Veronica Henry? Plan to read it? Please reach out, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!
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