Just in case you’re wondering, we’ll be re-running some of our best and most popular book reviews every other week from now on.  They will be described as our Legacy Mysterious Book Reports.  Send us a quick request if you have a favorite that you’d like to see again and we’ll do our best to re-publish it.

Legacy Mysterious Book Report No. 43

Published March 30, 2020


Mysterious Book Report No. 391

by John Dwaine McKenna

We humans all have one thing in common . . . we are endlessly curious.  We’ve just gotta know how and why things happen, as well as where, when and what.  We are compelled as a species to look through the window, open the door, or peek around the corner to see what we haven’t seen and learn what we don’t know.  Add in a smidgen of the illicit, tawdry, mysterious, risqué, or unbelievable . . . and the urge to investigate becomes an almost irresistible itch for most of us.  It’s an itch we have to scratch.  Hell, we’ll even pay an admission fee.

Such is the premise behind Pontilliar’s Spectacular Star Light Miraculum, and the basis for a richly imagined, well crafted and brilliantly executed novel that locks the forces of good and evil into a struggle for survival, as the normal battles the paranormal in a fight over what it means to be human.

Miraculum, (Polis Books, $26.00, 336 pages, ISBN 978-1-947993-41-9) by Steph Post, begins in 1922, out near Texas-Louisiana border where Mr. Pontilliar’s carnival has just set up for a three day run before moving on to the big city of Baton Rouge.  The crowds are mediocre, the heat almost unbearable and boredom oppressive one starlit summer night, when Ruby, the tattooed snake charmer, first notices the strange man standing in the crowd, lighting a cigarette.  He’s unusually good-looking, cool and collected despite the heat and the fact that he’s wearing a black suit and tie which cost more than the entire carnival is worth.  The outlander’s name is Daniel.  He’s charming, mercurial, and charismatic when he joins the carnival as a geek . . . a performer who bites live chickens for entertainment.  There’s something off about Daniel, something that hints of malice, maybe evil, and controversy seems to swirl about him.  Odd things occur whenever he’s around . . . then tragic deaths happen to a couple of performers, and the usually collegial, tight-knit community of carneys starts unraveling as a horrified Ruby and her lover, a roughneck named Hayden, try to fight back against a widening tide of darkness in this terrific paranormal yarn that will linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page is read.

Look out Peter Straub.  Step aside, Stephen King and John Connolly.  There’s a hot new writer on the scene, and damn, she’s good!  Her name is Steph Post

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