From Publishers Weekly
While on vacation on a small island off the coast of North Carolina, Alex and Iris Barton feel as if they are in a pleasant dream when they stumble across an odd circus. But the dream turns into a nightmare in this flawed but promising first novel when a conjurer makes Iris disappear. Alex's search for her takes him on a strange journey that leads to a small Mississippi church, an island devoted to the circus stage and into the darkness of his childhood. Along the way, he gets help from a cast of characters straight out of Wonderland: a contortionist, a sheriff of Indian descent, even the conjurer who caused him so much trouble. Many of the nightmarish situations the author employs to advance the plot are cliched and not particularly surprising. However, his writing is, for the most part, adequately lucid; he describes circus life vividly (having once worked for Ringling Bros.) and understands how its mystique operates in the American subconscious. Old, grainy photos of various circus performers scattered throughout the text enhance its slightly surreal mood.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In this dreamlike, nightmarish novel, the action is continually shifting from the nearly incomprehensible to the nearly normal. The protagonist, Alex, watches as his wife volunteers for a disappearing act at a circus on the island of Verre. When she does not return, and no one seems even to remember her, he sets off on a surreal odyssey filled with horrors, torture--both physical and mental--and a cast of characters from a different world: the world of the circus. Alex's adventures, bizarre encounters, and musings are punctuated by photographs of circus performers. He finds what he seeks, but what is it? What was it? Author Stevens, who worked as a tiger groom with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circuses, has written an amazing first novel that strikes repeatedly at the core of the notion of the performer, the performance, and the unknown. Eloise Kinney