A collection of five short stories with a common thread of the most magical places for children of all ages, the carnival.
REVENGE-MALVAGIO: Zachary and best friend Tim take a potion from a clairvoyant and find their deeds come at a most dire cost.
THE CAROUSEL: Sarah’s obsession with her favorite midway ride could lead to other worldly consequences.
FOLLETTO THE CLOWN: Mark learns the hard way his parents’ divorce isn’t the end of the world.
HOUSE OF SCREAMS: Madame Fantasma warns a group of small boys the perils of sideshow attractions.
THE HYPNOTIST: Two estranged sisters bond once again before the eyes of The Amazing Guaio
By far one of the most gratifying and awarding components of being a novel critic is having the opportunity to witness an author grow. I had the esteemed honor of reviewing one of Elizabeth Field’s endeavors some time ago, 2015 if I’m not mistaken titled Still The Shadows. The inaugural reading odyssey was a collection of tales, just as Welcome To The Carnival is. I was thoroughly impressed back then and truly blown away in which the manner Fields has managed to evolve. Her storying telling prowess has been elevated to appeal to even a larger audience. All the while her craft has been honed to a fine point edge forever escalating suspenseful plot elements and beckoning the reader for more.
Welcome To The Carnival opens with an inspiring foreward and wraps things up with a heartfelt afterword. It’s indicative this author cares a great deal about her reading audience. Her ability to connect with the reader is unprecedented and many authors whether novice or veteran could take a page from this playbook.
The collection of tales’ common theme of the carnival will appeal to a large audience. Whether young or old, we all have cherished memories (and some not so much) of the midway. Fields seems to have a firm grasp on her market and increases her readership tenfold as a result. The mystique of the carnival resonates with such a vast demographic as the desired result is always one and the same. Escape. We all need a retreat to a wondrous sanctuary from time to time to leave all our troubles behind. In essence this is precisely why many of us read, to get lost within our proverbial fantasy land located just around the bend from the cerebral cortex. Fields sets up all the right variables, while beckoning the reader to let their guard down. Maximum creep factor is then achieved in spades.
Perhaps most impressive this go around is the author’s ability to tell each story with varying points of view. She illustrates tremendous comfort in telling the story whether from female or male first person point of view. Suspended realism is enhanced and we never really question the authenticity of the premise.
I also admire Field’s ability in grasping common trends within not only the literary but horror realm in general. Coulrophobia, or in basic terms, fear of clowns is on the cusp of being all the rage these days. Crafting a tale that exploits some of our deepest, darkest fears will no question inspire many a nightmare, getting readers talking and Welcome To The Carnival becomes a living and breathing entity in conversational pieces. Isn’t that what many authors vie to do from paragraph one?
If I had to choose one minor gripe and it is strictly subjective and hardly one of serious consequence. The use of adverbs, at times may appear to be a smidge on the over indulgent side. One cannot deny the usage is in fact a necessary evil now and again. At closer glance these components may simply be a part of Field’s prose and in reality the layout far from detracts from the merit of the tales.
The supernatural/paranormal type feel will gravitate many a reader that is not necessarily a horror fan. By expanding her subject matter, fans outside of the genre will rejoice. Suddenly there are readers from varying preferences enjoying Welcome To The Carnival, this can never be a bad thing.
While Welcome To The Carnival has a common theme there is varying ground chartered from tale to tale. I can foresee an opportunity for perhaps a second collection that inspires even more screams, thrills and chills.
Prior exposure to Elizabeth Fields work then enjoying Welcome To The Carnival once again exemplifies her dedication to the craft. Forever honing in and polishing on all story telling components this collection is conclusive evidence that Fields is not at all about sheer commercialism but a fan of the genre as well. Her passion for the industry comes shining through her work. I for one, and I’m sure countless will agree, cannot wait for additional efforts from one Elizabeth Fields.