I received a copy from Netgalley.
This for me was a case of interesting premise but boring execution. I can’t say it was a bad book, but this reader was just meh about the whole thing really.
Carnivals/Circuses with hints of a magic are a recent favourite of mine. So the premise of this book caught my attention right away. Teenager Emma has gone to the carnival with her friend. Emma across as likeable from the tone of the writing. She’s more fascinated by the artwork murals she spots than making out with cute boys like her friend Juliet.
A strange encounter for Emma when a weird boy gives her a coin. She and Juliet find themselves trying the fortune teller – The Boy in The Box. Emma soon finds herself alone. And shortly later hanging out with the Boy in the Box. And going on the Ferris wheel with him, drinking a bottle wine provided by the boy, kissing the weird boy and falling off said Ferris wheel.
When she wakes up Emma finds herself unable to feel anything and is shocked to discover she has been cursed. The Boy in the Box, Sidney, tricked her into taking his curse which can only be taken away with a kiss. She can try and get someone else to drink the mysterious wine and kiss them and shove them off the Ferris wheel.
Naturally, Emma is completely freaked and completely furious. (Who wouldn’t be?) Her reaction to the sudden change in her life is well written and completely believable as she realises her whole life is changed. She can’t go home, she has to stay with the Carnival while she is under the curse. The curse is a little more complex than first it seems but like anyone in this situation, there’s only so much information you can take in.
The Carnival people turn out to be pretty awesome (with a few exceptions of course) but most of the supporting cast were fantastic. The other acts who were around Emma’s age start to become real friends and help her deal with the situation. There are a few people who are absolute assholes and creepy (who turn out to be the baddies of the story).
None of this was too bad. It was really unique and interesting and kept me wanting to know what was going to happen. I like Emma as a character and I loved the supporting characters. What really spoiled this book for me was the romance.
Dual narrated the novel is from the point of view of Emma and Benjamin, one of the carnival workers who strikes a friendship with Emma which quickly becomes something more. Initially when we’re introduced to Benjamin it appears he’s working with the carnival along with his cousin both are hoping to save enough money to leave and start their own lives. But as soon as Emma comes into the picture he’s fascinated. Ben’s mother Audrey who also works at the carnival is livid about the idea of him hanging out with Emma who is now trying to get used to her new role as The Girl in the Box. Though the reasons for Audrey’s unnatural dislike and distrust of Emma become clearer later in the novel it just seems weird.
Of course being teenagers who are in insta-love they completely ignore the warnings about the two of them being together. The curse is a little more complex than Emma first realises and things are happening at the carnival, accidents are occurring that haven’t happened before and Emma is getting the blame. There’s a mystery to solve as to why all going back to the origins of how the curse came into being in the first place.
The novel is well written and the plot is interesting enough to want to know what’s going on but the romance between Ben and Emma is just so eye rolling it spoiled the whole book for me really. Even when they finally figure out what’s going on and what to do about it.
Good idea, but in the end just not for me.
Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Publishing LLC for approving my request to view the title.