Sideshow

May 28, 2013 - 11:03 pm No Comments

Sideshow
Author: William Ollie
Publisher: Dark Region Press
Page count: 214pp
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Step right up ladies and gentlemen, and come along to . . . the Sideshow.

This quirky and enjoyable horror novel starts ‘many years ago’, when after listening to rumours, young soldier Stanley Johnson is desperate to go to the local carnival, with all of its grotesqueries, gambling and other tantalizing temptations. Much to his surprise, it is full of rednecks rather than kids and is much more like a fly by night open air casino.
Stanley watches the action with a knowing smile and enters the sideshow tent anticipating the sight of freaks and carny’s. Disgusted by what he sees, Stanley gives the tall old gentleman, the Sideshow Barker, a really big piece of his mind. But it isn’t the sideshow he’s interested in. He’s really there for the strippers. Entranced by the deformed yet delicious stripper, and drunk on whisky, Stanley yells a torrent of abuse at the poor woman; something he may regret for a very long time!
Switch to the present, and young Justin Henry and his friend Mickey Reardon are excited by the approach of Halloween in their small town of Pottsboro, Carolina. Young Mickey tells Justin about the carnival tents he literally saw grow out at Godby’s field, a place with a dark and twisted history of racial abuse relevant to its Deep South residents and the growing tale. This is Hannibal Cobb’s Kansas City Carnival, and the residents are in for one hell of a surprise.
Reminiscent of similar ‘carnival’ sub-genre horrors such as Funhouse, The Vampire’s Assistant, and The Traveling Vampire Show, ‘with touches of Stand By Me, the tension builds steadily in this fun-filled romp. Told from multiple points-of-view we get to know the varied residents of Pottsboro and for those we don’t really like, we can anticipate a truly dismal and drastic demise. This is visceral and imaginative horror at its best, the beauty of the book being that the horror happens for a real and valid reason. Justin, as the child protagonist is very well written and we become engrossed in his journey. This is a real love story to middle town America, and Ollie is now a name I would recommend to any horror fans.

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