Book Rating: ★★★★★ (5 / 5 stars)
After being abandoned by her family in Louisiana, Eliza Meeks is trying to find a way out of the swamps of Baton Rouge. With a magical ability to communicate with animals, she draws the attention of a talent prospector for the Bacchanal Carnival. While Bacchanal offers her a ticket to freedom, there in lies a deeper mystery: a demon feeds off of the weak, terrorizing the country, and hunting for its final foe. Is Eliza the key to ending this demon’s terror? Or unlocking further horrors across the US?
I knew right away that I would like this book. Drawn in by the picturesque descriptions, enchanted by Eliza’s magic and the unique characters, once I started, I didn’t want to put it down. It takes the best aspects of the Night Circus (which I admit I wasn’t a fan of), and couples it with the Depression-era South, Yoruba mythology, and magical realism. So much of this hits aspects that I love.
What it lacks in some of the character aspects (which is often something I enjoy in stories), it makes up for in its storytelling. Each character plays a vital role; one seemingly insignificant character, such as the baker, suddenly becomes a key player. I cried at certain deaths (which I won’t elaborate on here due to spoilers), and smiled when Eliza reunited with the one she’d been searching for.
There is so much to say about this book, but honestly I’ll just leave it at this: Bacchanal gives a new look at a depression-era tale. It is a story not only of magic, but of history and persecution. It was so easy to picture the events unfolding before me, to the point where I felt like I was there.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
What’s it about?
Evil lives in a traveling carnival roaming the Depression-era South. But the carnival’s newest act, a peculiar young woman with latent magical powers, may hold the key to defeating it. Her time has come.
Abandoned by her family, alone on the wrong side of the color line with little to call her own, Eliza Meeks is coming to terms with what she does have. It’s a gift for communicating with animals. To some, she’s a magical tender. To others, a she-devil. To a talent prospector, she’s a crowd-drawing oddity. And the Bacchanal Carnival is Eliza’s ticket out of the swamp trap of Baton Rouge.
Among fortune-tellers, carnies, barkers, and folks even stranger than herself, Eliza finds a new home. But the Bacchanal is no ordinary carnival. An ancient demon has a home there too. She hides behind an iridescent disguise. She feeds on innocent souls. And she’s met her match in Eliza, who’s only beginning to understand the purpose of her own burgeoning powers.
Only then can Eliza save her friends, find her family, and fight the sway of a primordial demon preying upon the human world. Rolling across a consuming dust bowl landscape, Eliza may have found her destiny.