The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, aman who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.
If WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, “Carnivale”, and Stephen King’s REVIVAL had a book that was then struck by lightning, it would be MIRACULUM. This unforgettable novel is part southern gothic, part noir, part magical realism, and all Steph Post.
Ruby is a snake charmer in carnival full of strange characters. Another “strange” character has been hired to join the tour. His name is Daniel and he bites heads off chickens…yes…that really is his job. Weird accidents start occurring after Daniel’s arrival. Ruby will not be stopped until she finds out exactly what is going on.
My heart went out to Ruby throughout this read. She had to leave the only home she has ever known to find a father who could care less about her. As a matter of fact, he ships her off to be tattooed. This is actually where the story took and odd turn, as if a man who bites heads off chickens isn’t odd enough.
This is a very unique read. However, as I was reading, I was unsure what genre it actually fell into. It started out as a little romance/murder mystery type story. Then it changed to a little voodoo/mystical tale. So, it is a weird type of novel but it is so very captivating. I loved the 1920’s carnival setting. The characters, and I do mean characters, really capture your imagination and your heart.
This may be an uncommon story but is a fascinating read not soon forgotten.