For fans of split time periods, unique settings and intricate mysteries
The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright takes readers on an epic journey. Set in two time periods with connecting mysteries, the story centers around a traveling circus in the late 1920’s. Pippa Ripley longs to connect to her real family. Abandoned by her parents, all she knows is that they once worked for the circus. A mysterious phantom of a man called The Watchman seems to hold the answers, if Pippa could find him. In the present time, Chandler Faulk tries to keep everything together. A single mother, she moves to Bluff River for work. She’s trying to renovate an old train depot but gets sucked into local lore that has the place pegged as haunted by the ghost of a murdered woman.
The novel enchants readers from the start. Jaime Jo Wright has an amazing way with words. The backdrop of the circus brings out incredible imagery – yet it’s almost a behind the scenes tour for the reader. The focus isn’t the glitz and glamour of the show with the big tents and epic acts. This is the story of the people who work in the shadows, the ones who live to entertain others but hide themselves behind a curtain. Jake Chambers is a brooding man that just wants justice for his sister’s murder. Clive is a dwarf dealing with being rejected because of his stature. Their stories come to light as they try to figure out the mystery behind the Watchman. No one knows who he is, but he appears around the circus in a burlap bag mask and is associated with a string of murders along the circus stops.
The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus definitely gives off some creepy vibes. The author creates an ambiance of Gothic imagery that adds another layer to the imagery and plotline. It all works together to create this world full of magic and mystery, that spans decades and reaches into the broken hearts of the characters with offers of redemption and healing. Many of the character find refuge in the circus, yet the modern setting reflects the same hidden identities of the performers. Both Pippa and Chandler just want to be seen, they long for a place to call their own where they are known and loved. Their parallel stories seem to intersect seamlessly. Chandler tries so hard to overcome her past, that she self-destructs by thinking she can’t manage. Hank Titus brings warmth and depth into her life by seeing her for who she truly is and not expecting her to manage everything by herself.
As far as the suspense, the entire story is a complicated and twisted mystery. Chandler uncovers information about the 1920’s murder, and someone wants her to stop looking. The old train depot definitely makes a great setting for a haunted place. This novel kept me flipping pages to figure out the ending. I had to slow down to make sure I read every word because I just wanted to find out the identity of the Watchman.
I’m such a fan of Jaime Jo Wright! Between the mystery that spans decades, the incredible imagery, and the broken and beautiful characters, this story is one of my favorites!
Overall: 5 stars (I loved it, couldn’t put it down)
Suspense: 5 stars (Non-stop edge-of-your-seat suspense from start to finish)
I received an ebook review copy of this book through NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.