This was a short story by Seanan McGuire that was part of the Carniepunk anthology released last year (2013). It is, like all of Seanan McGuire’s/Mira Grant’s books, an absolutely delectable piece of writing. I realize that I’m verging on the edge of hyperbole, but truly I have yet to read anything by Seanan McGuire that didn’t please me. She covers such a variety of genres – Science Fiction/Fantasy, including her October Daye series which deals with the Fae in a modern world, to the Incryptid series, which is probably a cryptozoologist’s dream come true and has a gritty urban fantasy setting. Don’t leave the zombies out, though, because she’s written about those as well, in her Newsflesh trilogy. She’s also written about parasites gone awry in her Parasitology series, which I believe is loosely connected to the Newsflesh series.
And, now, here we are, with a short story that combines carnivals and mythical creatures in a beautiful, self-contained little snippet of wonder and curiosity. Ada has lived her entire life with the carnival, traveling across the country to various small towns and learning and loving the carnie life. She has a secret, though, one that she inherited from her mother, and when the carnival decides to stop in her father’s hometown in Alabama, well, things begin to happen. I won’t say more because this is a short story, and to say more would leave nothing for the reader to discover.
This story was perfect on its own. It caught my interest immediately, and I read about each character avidly, waiting to find out what was happening to everyone and how things would turn out. The ending was satisfactory for a short story, but it did leave me wanting more. I would love to see a series about Ada and her carnie family someday.
I highly recommend reading this short story, or even buying the entire anthology if you enjoy carnivals and steampunk and things that go bump in the night.