Monday, November 4, 2013
Review: Goldenland Past Dark
Goldenland Past Dark by Chandler Klang Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book Info: Genre: Dark speculative fiction
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of the journey
Trigger Warnings: murder, clowns
My Thoughts: I think this book would have been better if it had focused more on Dr. Show's circus. As it is, about halfway through the action jumps ahead five years and Webern and Nepenthe join another circus. A lot of the heart goes out of the story when that happens with the loss of so many characters with whom we had bonded.
Don't misunderstand, this is a well-written book, with great descriptions and well-developed characters. I just wasn't as engaged as I had hoped to be, and I really have no idea why other than what I mentioned above. I think people who enjoy the journey more than the destination will like this book well enough.
I really liked Bo-Bo. She was just such a character, and the scene with the coffin was hilarious (the first one, I mean). I would read an entire book just about Bo-Bo and her activities and adventures. Unfortunately she was a very minor part of the story.
I did wonder if a chimp would be capable of all the things that Marzipan does all the time, cooking and cleaning and knitting and so forth. I also had to wonder how old she was. It is mentioned that she is “graying,” but not how long she had lived with Bo-Bo. Chimpanzees can live up to 60 years in captivity, but often become aggressive as they age.
So, not a bad book. It made me think and I did quite enjoy several of the characters, but there was just something missing from it. Still, if it sounds like something you would like, check it out.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from ChiZine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: A hostile stranger is hunting Dr. Show's ramshackle travelling circus across 1960s America. His target: the ringmaster himself. Struggling to elude the menace, Dr. Show scraps his ambitious itinerary, ticket sales plummet, and nothing but disaster looms. The troupe's unravelling hopes fall on their latest and most promising recruit, Webern Bell, a sixteen-year-old stunted hunchback devoted obsessively to perfecting the surreal clown performances that come to him in his dreams. But as they travel through a landscape of abandoned amusement parks and rural ghost towns, Webern's bizarre past starts to pursue him, as well. Along the way, we meet Nepenthe, the seductive Lizard Girl; Brunhilde, a shell-shocked bearded lady; Marzipan, a world-weary chimp; a cabal of drunken, backstabbing clowns; Webern's uncanny sisters, witchy dogcatchers who speak only in rhymes; and his childhood friend, Wags, who may or may not be imaginary, and whose motives are far more sinister than they seem.
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