The Carnival

Young Adult - Horror
210 Pages
Reviewed on 10/03/2022
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Author Biography

Brian James Lane is an author, playwright, and has even been a podcaster. His tales are usually in the dark, foreboding and otherworldly vein but there have been some fantasies, comedies, and mysteries thrown into the mix occasionally. He has literally penned several hundred horror stories. Readers have compared his work to The Twilight Zone and Tales from the Crypt.

Lane has lived his entire life in the American Southwest. He has resided in all four-corners states, currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. He lives a double life with one foot planted firmly as a doting husband and family man and the other leg mired in the morbid and macabre.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Amy Powers for Readers' Favorite

Sombervine: The Carnival is a young adult horror novel by Brian James Lane that tells the story of three children who are sent to live with their Uncle Montressor. After their parents’ disappearance, there is nowhere else for them to go except to the traveling carnival where their uncle works as a ventriloquist. Aggie, Mark, and Ian are immediately intrigued by the other people who work at the carnival, but some of them are not quite as pleasant as the others. Their first night with the carnival takes the children through adventures, mysteries, and terrifying curses, and it seems as if they are in danger no matter what they do. With the help of some new friends, they might just solve some of the carnival’s riddles and – hopefully – survive through the night.

Brian James Lane demonstrates his adoration for Edgar Allan Poe through character names and other Easter eggs hidden throughout the story, but I found Sombervine: The Carnival to be reminiscent of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events as well as Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. Fans of any of these authors will quickly become immersed in the world of the traveling carnival as they experience the thrills that Aggie, Mark, and Ian must endure during their time at the carnival. The interesting (and sometimes terrifying) characters and somewhat magical events that the children encounter were my favorite parts of the story. With an open ending, I imagine that there is still more to their story on its way.