Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters of Odd and Magical

July 24, 2009

sideshow

Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical edited by Deborah Noyes

I was beginning to think that I really just don’t like young adult short stories collections at all. Of the last two that I have read, one I hated; the other I felt only lukewarm about, and that one (Gothic! Ten Tales of Terror, which was also edited by Deborah Noyes) had stories by some of my all time favorite authors! However, I have finally found a young adult collection where I actually enjoyed every story in it

In Sideshow: Ten Original Tales of Freaks, Illusionists and Other Matters Odd and Magical popular authors such as Vivian Vande Velde, David Almond, Margo Lanagan, Cynthia Leitich Smith and others explore the strange and varied spectrum of “freaks and marvels” that originally gained popularity through traveling circuses and carnivals (Noyes does address in the introduction how these exhibits have shifted from being popular to being seen as “cruel and exploitive”). There are stories that you would expect to be in a collection like this, ones of a Bearded Lady, a dwarf, a psychic and a swami, but there were also ones that delved a little deeper into the odd side of things. Cecil Castellucci tells a story about learning to keep alive a feisty family heirloom. Annette Curtis Klause melds together carnivals and Egyptian history in “The Mummy’s Daughter.”

While all of these stories were enjoyable, I think my favorite part was the inclusion in the collection of several comic style stories, most notably Matt Phelan’s story of a Jargo* act gone wrong.

This is a great collection for anyone with an interest in the culture of carnivals or who likes their stories a little odd and creepy.

*A Jargo act was one where two men dressed as either a horse or giraffe.

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