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Cirque Berserk by Jessica Guess #BookReview

The summer of 1989 brought terror to the town of Shadows Creek, Florida in the form of a massacre at the local carnival, Cirque Berserk. One fateful night, a group of teens killed a dozen people then disappeared into thin air. No one knows why they did it, where they went, or even how many of them there were, but legend has it they still roam the abandoned carnival, looking for blood to spill.Thirty years later, best friends, Sam and Rochelle, are in the midst of a boring senior trip when they learn about the infamous Cirque Berserk. Seeking one last adventure, they and their friends journey to the nearby Shadows Creek to see if the urban legends about Cirque Berserk are true. But waiting for them beyond the carnival gates is a night of brutality, bloodshed, and betrayal.Will they make they it out alive, or will the carnival’s past demons extinguish their futures?

Cirque Berserk by Jessica Guess Rewind or Die Novella

Title: Cirque Berserk| Series: Rewind or Die| Author: Jessica Guess| Publisher: Unnerving| Pub Date: 12/2/2020 | Pages: 170| ISBN13: 978-1989206362 | Genre: Horror| Language: English| Source: Purchased| Starred Review

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Cirque Berserk Review

Teenagers often feel invincible, so it’s hardly surprising that a group of teens on a boring senior trip would decide to visit the grounds of a haunted carnival that has been closed for decades. Cirque Berserk was once a popular entertainment destination, but was shut down after several people were murdered by a group of young people who worked there.

When Sam hears about the urban legend surrounding Cirque Berserk, she is anxious to go there. She soon convinces everyone on the bus that it will be fun. After all, there’s no such thing as ghosts, right? And the murders happened 30 years ago. Surely the rumors about people disappearing over the years are just part of the legend. A visit to the infamous site of so many murders will be bragging rights for Sam and her friends as they head off to college. 

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a simple and believable premise. My mind was jumping ahead from the start, making guesses and wondering how the story would unfold. With Cirque Berserk, I couldn’t see the end from the beginning. Author Jessica Guess makes some intriguing choices and moves the story in unexpected directions.

The story is told from the perspectives of multiple characters. It also weaves together timelines from what happened the night of the murders 30 years prior and what happens when Sam’s group of seniors show up all these years later. Guess does a great job of labeling each section with the point of view character and the date, which eliminates confusion about timelines. The story’s structure also increases the payoff at the end. It allows for some surprises and it also deepens the character arcs.

Guess doesn’t shy away from giving us some complex characters, either. There are a few inherently good characters, but more time is spent on the ones who are painted in shades of gray. This ultimately makes for a more interesting read. I found it hard to know who to align myself with. In this battle for survival, I wasn’t sure about who to root for, and my allegiances shifted as the story progressed. That only enhanced my interest in the resolution of the story. 

I appreciated all the twists and turns and the creative developments along the way. Jessica Guess did an excellent job of crafting a memorable concept with a compelling group of characters who hold the reader’s interest from start to finish. 

There were some typos. They were the only thing that kept this from being a perfect entertaining read. The book could have used a final pass from the editor to remove some repeated or extra words in a few places. Still, none of those technical issues prevent the reader from knowing what is going on or understanding the story, so this is a minor note. Buy it, read it, enjoy it, and join the ranks of readers who are eagerly awaiting Jessica Guess’s next story.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads. (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsStarred Reviews
©Sci-Fi & Scary 2019
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