Primary Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction
Published: 1 September 2020 by Bethany House
Page count: 352
My Format: eBook/ARC via NetGalley
Do I Recommend: Probably
Commission Link: Buy The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus
My rating: ★★★☆☆
1928 – The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.
Present Day – The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.
Books like this one tend to grab my attention this time of year. I love a good thriller, haunting, mystery story to snuggle up with during October. I saw another person’s favorable review of this book and I was excited to read it. It ended up being a 3-star read for me, but there are definitely things to like about this story. Here are my pros and cons for The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus:
- I absolutely LOVE the title and the cover!
- I loved that the male protagonists were atypical – flawed men trying to do what is right. I thought that was refreshing.
- I thought the Christian element was incorporated into the story well. Characters would question God, question faith, wonder why things were happening the way they were and then pray. I think Christians can and do experience this kind of doubt and uncertainty at times when things go wrong in our lives, particularly when those things are irreversible or tragic, so the story will be relatable.
- The book is presented as a past and present narrative and I loved the story from 1928. Pippa was a fantastic character and her storyline was the most enjoyable part of this book for me. It was a joy to witness Pippa gain strength and confidence and grasp life as she wanted it to be.
- The relationship between Pippa and the baby elephant was very special.
- I loved the whole circus atmosphere of the past narrative. It has always intrigued me that something like a circus, which can be so fun and exciting, can also be so dark and frightening with just a slight change in the perspective.
- Chandler’s character was over-the-top whiny and insecure in my opinion – and there really wasn’t a good reason for it other than situations she created in her own head. I couldn’t take it. Plus, every new present day chapter seemed to rehash her whining and insecurity. Ultimately I didn’t feel like her level of insecurity and self-doubt was even pertinent to the story and I wish it had been lessened or left out entirely.
- The present day narrative was quite boring to me. Everything about Chandler set my nerves on edge – her dialogue, her insecurities (as I mentioned above), her interactions with other people. I found myself skimming quite a bit during the present day sections.
- The supernatural aspect of the story felt incomplete, or perhaps inconsistent is a better word. Either way, the attempt to bring supernatural elements into the story felt out of place. I would have preferred the murder mystery without even the hint of supernatural.
- Nothing happens until about the 70% mark in the book. Past 70% the story finally piqued my interest. I’m glad I finished the book, but it was touch and go there for a bit on whether I would DNF or not.
I know I am in a minority here for not loving this book, and that is okay. Not every book is for every person. For me, I think I would have enjoyed this more if it was simply a murder mystery back in 1928. That part of the story was phenomenal, but the present day narrative just didn’t interest me as much as the past narrative. As a matter of fact, I think the present story weakened the book overall.
I would still recommend this book to people that enjoy historical fiction or Christian fiction, or if you particularly like murder mysteries and circuses! Many people have loved this book, so if it interests you at all, give it a shot.
Thank you NetGalley and Bethany House for a free eARC of this book which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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