Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, llusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical

Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick, coming July 14).

Here's an anthology for those who like their fantasy mixed with the odd, the curious, the peculiar--in this case, the sideshow persons at whom people have gawked for centuries. With stories by authors including Ceci Castellucci, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margo Lanagan, and David Almond, and three stories in graphic form, there is much here to entertain and disturb. Sideshows are fundamentally disturbing--sticking a person in a sideshow, where their self becomes a source of entertainment to the masses, is about as objectifying as it can get. When the differences that lead to someone becoming a sideshow are combined with magic, mystery, and mayhem, there's a lot of room for great writers of fantastical fiction to make gripping and memorable stories.

Which is what happens here. Not all the stories are set in the circus setting I expected (although some are) but all explore the edge of reality, where freakishness becomes part of life. All the stories are well worth reading, but there were some that I will remember always. In particular, "Those Psychics on TV," by Vivian Vande Velde, hit me like a ton of bricks (but I shan't spoil it by saying anything more). And there's also the most disturbing fictional bread dough I've ever encountered (this story, Castelllucci's contribution, stretches the "sideshow" theme somewhat, but it was such a good, Joan Aikenish story that I'm glad it's here), a mummy who is both an antiquity and a mummy in the maternal sense, shapeshifting, a visit from "God," and more...

(disclosure: ARC received from the publisher)


  1. This sounds like something for Guys Lit Wire -- a good title.

    How do you, incidentally, get your ARC's from publishers? Are you reviewing for a specific publisher, or just a random bunch?

  2. I think this would be a great book for fans of Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak series. Thanks for posting-I'm adding it to my order for my library list!

  3. I don't actually get a huge number of arcs. Sometimes authors will ask if I would like their book, but most of my arcs come from various publishers who contact me to ask if I'm interested (at which point, I might ask for other books that they publish). Some publishers send me their lists, and I've requested a number of books that way. I think being on the Cybils helped bring me to the attention of publishers, and I also think that making it clear that I review science fiction and fantasy has made my blog more atractive. But there are still quite a few publishers that I wish knew my address. I would have liked to have been one of the happy bunch, for instance, who got that Catching Fire package from Scholastic...

  4. I'm glad it sounds good to you, G.B.T.Q.! I actually haven't read Cirque du Freak...sigh...and so can't confirm your feeling, but it sounds plausible.

  5. I enjoy reading short stories with a twist to them. This sounds like it would be right up my alley.


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