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Creepy Carnivals & Steampunk

REVIEW: “The Three Lives of Lydia” by Delilah S. Dawson

a Blud Short Story, included in CARNIEPUNK

Reviewed by Meaghan Walsh Gerard

 

carniepunkFull disclosure: I don’t read romance books. They’re just not my thing. I do however love creepy carnivals and some steampunk literature so I was thrilled to see Crossroads veteran Delilah S. Dawson had a short story included in a book called “Carniepunk.”

Let’s just take a minute and acknowledge how cool that title is. Alright, proceed.

The entries vary but most are in some way related to fantasy worlds. Titles include “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street,” “The Werewife,” “Freak House” and “Hell’s Menagerie.” One can already hear the rusted calliope cranking out a tune in the distance…

In “The Three Lives of Lydia,” Dawson tells a tale connected to her already-established Blud series. Lydia wakes up in a field, unable to remember what happened. As she slowly comes to, she recognizes the unmistakable features of a traveling circus. Right away the reader is hit with sharp descriptions.

Running a finger over the crooked heart tattooed on her left wrist, she inhaled the scent of grass and cold iron and waited for something to happen.

“Am I dead?”

Her voice was overloud in the moon-bitten night, and she suddenly felt like an extra in someone else’s movie. Pg. 24-5

Though Lydia is confused, and perhaps a bit shaken, she is not useless. She examines her surroundings and knows that to blend in she will need new clothes. One of my favorite passages is the description of the costume car.

A series of Victorian-looking sconces lit with an orange glow. She was in luck: the room was a jumble of mannequins, hats, and sequins. Costumes sprouted from dress forms, half finished in harlequin diamonds or lurid stripes. Feathers exploded from upturned top hats, and blots of cloth swooped across the ceiling like gypsy tents. Pg. 26

Lydia meets Charlie, her guide through this strange world called Sang – a world where her myriad tattoos are revered. She is to be put on display for the other inhabitants to gawk at. But other carnies are jealous of Charlie and newfound girlfriend. Lydia is in danger, in both our world and Sang.

As with any good story, there are universal themes to be found, regardless of genre or setting. Lydia must use her wits to navigate Sang, while dealing her feelings for Charlie and her fears of the unknown. She is the fish-out-of-water archetype, who isn’t so sure she wants to get back in the pond.

So, yes, this story was a bit out of my normal realm of reading, but it’s a good reminder that these short story collections and anthologies are a great way to get a taste for a new genre and to find new authors.

 

Paperback: 448 pages | Publisher: Gallery Books; Original edition (July 23, 2013)

Language: English | ISBN-10: 1476714150 | ISBN-13: 978-1476714158

Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 6.7 inches

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