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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Carnival Keepers by Amber Gulley is a delightful fantasy following the story of James as his life goes from arrogance and bet making, to falling into the clutches of the carnival. As James focuses on a series of bets from his good friend Alex, Mr. Scraps and Laura are trying to keep him from attending the carnival. Robby the cat finds himself entangled in the carnival's darkness as young Arry finds his own fascination with a mask. Meanwhile, Eddy Miller meets a mysterious little girl with wings. It's All Hallow's Eve, and everything is connected, but can they escape the carnival if they don't understand what they should be running from?
The Carnival Keepers has haunting imagery, beautiful prose, and a lyrical quality that captures the mischief, loveliness, and darkness of the carnival! Amber Gulley delivers a story with a rich and lyrical prose: “The little butterfly girl squeezed his hand and led him from the tent, where the autumn daylight, the shimmering tents, and the laughing carnival atmosphere eased him once more.”
Gulley's story of fairies and mischief is perfectly captured by haunting scenes written so beautifully that it doesn't read morbidly. The lyrical language coupled with the various perspectives creates an interesting style. James's perspective is told from first person, but there are scenes written from the third person detailing other characters' lives. Gulley pulls the style off well, as everything connects back full circle.
Arry and Robby have the funnest part of the book as the boy and the cat make an unlikely pair, but they provide some levity to the story. One of the favorite parts, and also one of the most lyrical parts of the book, is the fairytale recited by the storyteller that recounts the story of three fairy sisters. It reads like the original fairy tales, which makes it particularly beautiful. A must-read!