I received this book for free from publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Permuted Press Genres: Horror
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When Dan, 16, runs away from a terrible home life to join a circus, he has no idea what he’s getting himself into. Based on Dante’s Inferno, THE NINTH CIRCLE follows a young man’s coming-of-age as he travels with the circus through nine states and discovers that the performers have uncanny abilities and extremely dark secrets, especially the person who is looking to destroy the circus from within
Do you enjoy dark reads? Guts,Gore,and Death in you books? Then pick up the Ninth Circle. This book is dark really dark. The opening chapters give us a glimpse into Daniel’s life before he runs away to the circus. It’s not a good life. His dad is an alcoholic, his mom is having an affair and can hardly stand him it seems. His brother is an abusive jerk. Clearly it’s not a life he loves. For his sixteenth birthday his parents take him to the circus. He falls in love with the life and glitter. The rest of the story follows Daniel as he spends time with the preformers. The book is depressing and funny and gross. Clearly it’s right up my alley. Each performer has their own life that they ran away from. The highlight for me was Daniel’s time with the Magician. I really felt their connection.
The one thing that bothered me about the book was Dan’s innocence. He was sixteen but in some ways he seemed younger. Then I started to get to know Dan as a character. And it made sense. He’s constantly being referred to as a kid, or asked if he’s twelve. He is innocent. Until he comes to the circus.
There seemed to be a few characters that had supernatural abilities. I don’t really want to say who because I WANT you to read the book and discover it for yourself. This isn’t really explained in the book. This might bother some readers who like to have all of their questions answered. But I for one liked the air of mystery surrounding these characters. It was refreshing to not read a book that wasn’t afraid to keep the reader in the dark. It’s also disconcerting because it’s so real. I felt like I could feel the power coming from them. The ending was a trip. Holy cow. I enjoyed this book immensely and won’t hesitate to read another novel by this author.
Ninth Circle is almost like a series of short stories, each chapter telling about Daniel’s experiences with various performers in the circus. Each successive chapter takes the reader deeper into the circus’ dark underbelly. At first, you get the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Until you KNOW that something isn’t right! This is NOT a lighthearted read. It is hopeless and oppressive. It didn’t make me feel good reading it, but I still enjoyed it. Does that make sense?
Lori mentioned the supernatural abilities of some of the characters. Playing Devil’s advocate, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they actually had special abilities. Or maybe was it just Daniel’s imagination or a sleight of hand? I mean, he is young, and there is a magician… There were a lot of loose threads left dangling at the end of the story, and I couldn’t help but try to explain some of them away. The truth of the matter is, I don’t think that it was ever meant to be all wrapped up in a neat little package. You’re supposed to be left thinking things through. There are no answers to be had. Part of me really loved that, while my OCD half went NUTS! 😉
I had a hard time placing this story in present day. Circuses aren’t exactly in their heyday anymore. Have you ever seen the show Carnivale? Or read Water for Elephants? I kept imagining Daniel in the type of circus from the early 20th century, riding in a dusty train car full of heavy canvas tents, struggling against famine and poverty. No matter what I did, I couldn’t possibly orient myself into a modern circus. Luckily, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story at all. It’s timeless! Evil doesn’t have an expiration date. Whether you approach this story as a boy’s coming of age tale, or classic horror, you won’t be disappointed. (Unless you’re expecting fluffy bunnies and rainbows. Then you might be disappointed a little. 😛 )