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Lunch » Tags » Untagged » By the Light of the Carnival » User review

expanding minds, bright lights and darkening dreams

  • Mar 31, 2012

Young Joe has a strange dream the night before he goes to work at the carnival. But he’s only leaving for a week. He’ll be back in plenty of time to help his father bring in the hay. And if he meets some strange people, well they won’t be any stranger than his gay uncle and crazy aunt.
This is small-town America in the 1970s, and author Peter Joseph Swanson brings it vividly to life, from rain and mud to politics and bright lights. The carnies just want to make a buck, but their way of life is dying. The townsfolk just want to enjoy the relief of some unreality, which they find in plentiful supply. Wheels tilt, rifles shoot, and the dunking tank waits for its prey. A genuine fortune teller mixes wise advice and common sense with some very strange dreams. Ghosts haunt the gathering clouds and voices whisper in the mirrors of the maze.
The well-pitched dialog reads itself into the ear as readers absorb the dark-rimmed atmosphere. With hints of Ray Bradbury and an innocent abroad, plus sheer terror and social commentary, the whole tale builds up to a book that’s easy to read, easy to put down and take up again, and sufficiently haunting you’ll find yourself still untangling all the lines when the last page is done.
Is the future written in visions, crystal balls or in mud? Or does it take the light of the carnival to set a young mind free? Read and wonder and enjoy.
Disclosure: I’m reading a book a month just for me, and this is the one I chose for March.

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April 04, 2012
Interesting story!
About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
About this product


Joe goes to work as a carnie for a week and meets wordly gypsies: Carlos, a young man looking for trouble; Lady Fortuna, a guilt ridden old fortune teller; Pinda, a self assured young woman he thinks he might want to run off to see the world with; and Miss Toulon, who decided where to place the glass maze having been told in no uncertain terms by loud voices in her head. But Lisa, who has also just graduated from Joe's high school, shows up. She's no longer a shy stranger, and Joe falls for her too, even though choosing her would mean staying on the farm. Strange things happen and there are rumors that the glass maze is haunted and evil. Furthermore, it has plans to free itself, even if it means taking down the whole carnival-and Joe's life-with it.
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