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Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jamie Jo Wright

My Rating:

books, reviews, book review, two star review

An understated and eerie mystery unfolds in Jamie Jo Wright’s, The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus. 

Following two timelines, one in 1928 and the other set in the present day, the novel follows two heroines, Pippa and Chandler. Pippa is an offcast, a young woman trying to find herself in the post suffragette world. Taken in by the owner of Bonaventure Circus, she has always wondered who her birth parents are. When notes come from a character calling himself ‘The Watchman,’ Pippa believes she will finally have answers to why her parents discarded her. 

Chandler is a single mother with a slippery downfall resulting in her pregnancy during her college years. She isn’t sure about the father, she’s struggling to prove her worth to her uncle, and she has recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Struggling to find a new balance for her son and her job as a real estate flipper, she unknowingly puts herself in the center of a decade’s long history of serial killers and small-town secrets. 

The characters are likable, specifically Pippa, who has more of a character arc and resolution. I was always eager to get back to her side of the tale since Pippa was more heroine than Chandler. It felt like Chandler was ancillary to the action while Pippa was driving it. Also, Chandler’s peculiar paranoia that someone will take her child away from her seemingly stems from nowhere. Character histories get muddled by wordiness. Too often in Chandler’s present-day setting, Wright brings us inside her head, instead of allowing a more natural unfolding of her actions to reveal her past. These tangents make the story sluggish where otherwise it would be catchy and engaging. 

Both Pippa and Chandler’s timeline include sweet romances, with Pippa’s being more poignant and obvious. The similarity between both love interests being the brooding, quiet male figure for both women seems a bit too cliche. These striking similarities might be echoes of the past; one theme The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus is all about. It is also clear Wright is commenting on prejudices and judging a book by its cover.

Though the themes of Faith and Christianity are more prominent in this book than in other Christian Fiction I’ve read, it was not distracting. Should you be looking for something eerie but not one of the more intense books of the horror/mystery genre, The Haunting of Bonaventure Circus would be an excellent choice. 

Many thanks to Jamie Jo Wright, Bethany House, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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