Portia’s aunt leaves her at McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls, run by Mister, who puts the girls to work and uses them to raise a profit for himself. Portia escapes, joining up with a carnival sideshow, where she lives as a “normal” among the “freaks.”
This was a fun book. I liked that I got to meet each character, got to hear them talk from their own point of view, and that the story was woven together through little snippets. It reminded me of Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser, that same sort of “circus horror” atmosphere. The story was a good one, old-fashioned in feel, with a purposely heavy-handed family theme/motif running through it. That gave it a slightly sinister fairy-tale vibe, without feeling like a copy. My only quibble with it was that I didn’t feel like I had a chance to get as close to Portia, the main narrator, as I wanted to. There was a certain distance between reader and character that perhaps someone other than me could more easily close, but I couldn’t get past it. So I enjoyed the book, but I’m not sure that it really dug its way into me in a way that will stick around forever. Still, fun book, and one I would definitely recommend, especially for fall atmospheric reading!