Regular readers of RR know I am big fan of the multi-talented Deborah Noyes and her horror-ific short story collections. In this latest macabre mishmash, Noyes asks authors to turn their attention to that object of endless fascination: the sideshow freak. The resulting ten stories are both striking and spellbinding. Step right up to the striped tent and meet Aimee Bender’s “Bearded Girl” and Cynthia Leitich Smith’s slinky feline shape shifter. Over there beneath the Midway, you’ll find Annette Curtis Klause’s resourceful Egyptian dancer who, despite her maturity, still needs her “Mummy” now and then. Out behind the Big Top, God (yes, THAT one) visits a couple of kids who just lost their dog in David Almond’s dreamy contribution, while Cecil Castellucci’s heroine discovers a distasteful family legacy in “The Bread Box.” There’s also some cool comic shorts, including my favorite story of all, Matt Phelan’s “Jargo!” about the mysterious front end of a fake circus giraffe who was NOT to be messed with. Wacky, weird and sometimes tragic, these stories will stick with you long after you close the garish covers of this compelling and odd compilation. And the only ticket you need to get into Noyes’s freak parade? Why, your library card of course!
Sideshow edited by Deborah Noyes