May 30, 2013

Carnage and Cotton Candy: a review of Bill Crider's "Carnival of Death"

Carnival of Death (The Dead Man #9)
by Bill Crider
Adventures in Television Inc. (2012)
Available via 

Carnivals have been fodder for horror ever since Ray Bradbury wrote Something Wicked This Way Comes. But as menacing as the characters of Bradbury's tale were, Bill Crider decided his Carnival of Death needed something far more bloody.

The ninth installment in The Dead Man series has Matt Cahill working security for Cap'n Bob's Stardust Carnival, a rinky-dink midway that'd make most state fairs looks like Disneyland. Still, he's felt drawn there for some reason, and he's been waiting for signs of Mr. Dark's influence on anyone entering the fairgrounds. The one who starts seeing the signs first, however, isn't Matt, but the carnival's resident palm reader, Madame Zora.

Zora can't really tell you your future. It's just a schtick she learned. Until Matt showed up, that is. Then things got weird for her, as her premonitions started coming true, and the things she was telling patrons weren't concocted from her imagination, but true visions that increasingly scared the heck out of her. Things come to a head as one night at the carnival sees employees and patrons alike turning vicious and violent against one another, with Matt and Zora caught in the middle.

I really liked the setup for this installment, and Madame Zora was a nice twist in the supporting character department, with her having a more direct relationship with the plot and the outcome. The outcome though, particularly the big climax that sees a couple of the carnival goers infected by Mr. Dark going on a rampage felt a bit out of step with what I'd call the Dead Man canon. I don’t want to spoil things with specifics, but if you read this book then you'll probably know what I mean.

All things considered, Carnival of Death keeps the pace for the series moving strong, and I'm looking forward to seeing where Matt Cahill winds up next.

1 comment:

  1. Traveling with a carnival for three years as a kid, has made me a little gun shy of books that take place in that world. I may have to check it out anyway.