Polis. Feb. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781947993419. $26. FANTASY
Post presents a novel with similar supernatural elements as Erin Morgenstern's modern classic The Night Circus, featuring plenty of money men and the seductively strange. But where Morgenstern memorably paints a world of beautiful magic and tragic love, Post delves into the ugliness of the struggle to achieve self-determination within it. She uses a third-person omniscient voice to offer many perspectives on lice-ridden, moonshine-soaked carnie life but ultimately focuses on protagonist Ruby Chole, tattooed lady and enchantress of serpents, vs. antagonist Daniel Revont, a singular geek with bespoke suits and a preternatural power of persuasion. As Ruby learns more of her own powers and Daniel employs his for casual, destructive cruelty, the path to their showdown intertwines with a mutual realization that they understand each other better than anyone else ever could.
VERDICT Night Circus fans will inevitably find this a cousin of their favorite, but readers of Katharine Dunn's Geek Love or Neil Gaiman's American Gods are more likely to enjoy it.

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