The Carnivale of Curiosities

Hachette Audio. Jul. 2023. 14:14 hrs. ISBN 9781668626092. $31.99. FANTASY
Gibbs’s atmospheric debut, beautifully narrated by James Langton, transports listeners to 1880s London’s intoxicating world of traveling sideshows, where curiosities, both real and imagined, enticed the public. Ashe and Pretorius’s Carnivale of Curiosities has returned to Athenaeum Theatre, bringing with it the unique offerings that make it stand out—a hirsute violin prodigy, conjoined twin tumblers, an aerialist who can fly, and a winged man who can produce and control fire. The troupe’s leader, Aurelius Ashe, is an illusionist and is rumored to be an actual devil who can make wishes come true. Drawn in by the rumors, financial magnate Odilon Rose approaches Ashe to bargain for the life of his ward, Charlotte Bainbridge, who is dying of leukemia. Ashe proposes a Faustian deal, curing Charlotte in exchange for Rose’s soul. When Rose inevitably tries to break his contract with Ashe, a grand showdown between the devilish magician and the financier ensues. Langton’s skillful reading captures the intriguing troupe of characters, imbuing them with dynamic voices and lively accents.
VERDICT For listeners who enjoy magic, the supernatural, and explorations of found families. Share with fans of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus or Constance Sayers’s The Ladies of the Secret Circus.
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