Andy’s story begins quite innocuously with a detour to a carnival that catches his eye while on the way to a shopping centre with his parents. Andy’s world is turned upside down upon entering the Hall or Mirrors, at which point he has been left behind at the carnival, and someone who looks like him, but is not quite him, leaves with his parents. Andy, now Dany in the carnie world, must come to terms with his new life that involves travelling around and setting up the carnival, as well as discovering its secrets with Mona and the others. At the same time, Andy’s duplicate resides with his parents, calls them mother and father, and casts shadows over the family that worry his mother, Eileen, and do not bode well for their futures.
The story in itself is told in alternating chapters through the eyes of Eileen and Andy/Dany. As Dany adjusts to his new life, the new Andy and his unusual ways of communicating both verbally and physically worry Eileen. The dual storyline demonstrates the complexity of the story, and allows the reader to follow the intriguing mystery of how the real Andy’s (Dany) disappearance affects his family, and hints that tragedy may soon befall them.
As Dany journeys with the carnival, he grows to become a part of it; though he still remembers his home and longs to return, the carnival offers him a different refuge, one that he could never have imagined.
Written by Oscar-winning film director (The Crying Game, The Company of Wolves) and novelist, Neil Jordan, Carnivalesque is his latest creation, and I quite enjoyed it. At its core, it is a story of intrigue and mystery, with questions that won’t necessarily be answered, nor resolved by the novel’s conclusion. With its blend of magical elements in a contemporary setting, Carnivalesque will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman and Jordan’s previous works, or anyone who enjoys a dose of fantasy and magical realism in their literature.
Ashleigh Meikle is a student, book blogger, and aspiring writer. More examples of her reviews can be found on her website