23 February 2012

Future Release: Wonder Show

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
Publication date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends and neighbors, allow me to change your lives! Step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show! You’ve read about them in magazines, these so-called human curiosities, this tribe of misfits—now come and see for yourselves. We’ve got a gent as tall as a tree, a lady with a beard, and don’t miss your chance to see the Wild Albinos of Bora Bora! Ask Madame Doula to peer into your future (only two dollars more if you want to know how you’re going to die).

And between these covers behold the greatest act of our display—Portia Remini, the strangest of the menagerie because she’s a ‘normal’ among the freaks, searching for a new beginning on the bally, far away from McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, said she could never leave . . .

Oh, it’s not for the faint of heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve got a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show you will never be the same.

First, I love the cover by Evan B. Harris. It's beautiful and I think it definitely draws the eye. I also want a print of it to hang on my wall. Someone make this happen. Please.

Second, I enjoyed the book! From the first page, I was transported to the Depression era. I was drawn in by Barnaby's wonderful writing style, the story, and the colorful cast of characters. Portia has a fire and passion that I liked. No one, not even the creepy Mister is going to stand in her way! The narration style is different than any other book I've read recently (or that I can remember right now). It goes back and forth between third-person omniscient and first-person. The first-person is normally a page or two where the reader gets an inside glimpse of Portia and the other circus characters. I would expect something like this to throw me out of the story, but I really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts. I also don't think it happens enough to be a hindrance to the storytelling. I think of it as an enhancement. Especially since the reader learns more about the histories of the characters at these points.

If I have a big complaint, it would be that the end felt a bit rushed to me. The entire book I was waiting for an amazing climax and I feel almost like nothing happened. I was left with a "wait, that's it?" It's a very easily solved ending. Too easy, in my opinion.

Wonder Show reminds me a bit of Moon Over Manifest (a book I love!). Yes, they are both set during the Great Depression, but they also involve two strong female characters who will stop at nothing to find their fathers. I think Wonder Show will find its place in the MG/younger YA audience. Though, it would suit a more mature middle grade reader as it is a dark book that deals with some issues like abandonment and suicide.


  1. Oh, I love Depression books and also loved "Moon over Manifest." Will definitely check this out!

  2. I love them as well! Thanks for commenting! :)

  3. I've not heard of this one, but you are so right, that cover is awesome! I'm intrigued by the depression era setting, so I'm thinking I might have to add this one to my list :0)


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