Blind Voices Hardcover – Aug 1978
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
So your "helpful" votes are greatly appreciated. A short review is not necessarily a bad review if it leads you to a great novel. I've just noted the general theme. Thanks
I loved this novel about a strange carnival that comes to a small mid-western town. The hero is a boy who gets caught up in a mystery.
Buy the old paperback with the cover showing a circus tent and wagon in the Kansas countryside. Not to be missed--the book cover and the novel.
It's too bad Tom Reamy didn't live long enough to write another novel. One reviewer said, "Not since Bradbury has a fantasy author so captured the dark heart of midwestern America." Harlan Ellison, another critic, asked, "How good is this book? It is breathtakingly good."
Two other great coming-of-age novels are "Summer of Night," by Dan Simmons, and "Boy's Life," by Robert McCammon. If you have missed these novels, you are in for a treat. I envy you. I bet you'll be glad you clicked on the following links.
Summer of Night (Aspect Fantasy)
When Evelyn Bradley, a small town girl, runs into the show's strange but alluring Angel Boy, things begin to seem out of kilter and not quite real. There is both more and less than meets the eye with the odd collection of creatures surrounding the show. And strange things begin happening around town during the show's stay. As Evelyn delves into the mystery of the Angel Boy, things begin to get stranger and more dangerous, not just for Evelyn, but the whole town.
In Blind Voices, Reamy has written a novel that reminds me a lot of some of Ray Bradbury's best works like The Illustrated Man. The attraction of the traveling circus and freak show and the magic, wonder, and latent fear that surrounds them comes to life in this novel. Reamy does and excellent job of setting the novel in rural Kansas in 1920's, which you learn from the language and plot without it being mentioned. The story unfolds at a pace that leaves you wondering where he's going next until you find out the secrets behind the secrets. And once the story takes off, its becomes both a seat of your pants thriller and a tender love story at the same time. This is an excellent work of fiction.
Haverstock's Traveling Curiosus and Tent Show arrives in a small Depression-era town in Kansas. The people are amused at what seem to be extraordinary, supernatural beings, but because they are mixed in with obvious fakes, most people shrug the whole thing off as a trick. But the circus really does contain supernatural beings, who are enslaved by the villainous Haverstock. The book follows three local girls whose fascination with the circus leads to sexual awakening fraught with danger. Rose falls for one of the roustabouts, Francine for the monstrous Minotaur, and Evelyn for Angel, a mute albino boy with powers to control the elements. The story is thrilling and evocative, but it's the love story between Evelyn and Angel that I liked the best. It's sweet, tender, and heartbreaking. I have reread this book many times and it always holds up.
But I have to wonder at the really ugly "American primitive" cover art I see pictured here. It has nothing to do with the story or any of the characters, and is really off-putting. The Andrew Wyeth-inspired cover of earlier editions captures the feel of the novel much better.
The townsfolk are excited when a traveling wonder show comes to town. Everyone wants to see the Minotaur, the tiny man, Medusa, the Invisible Man, and the rest of the amazing attractions. One by one, the young townspeople are seduced by different aspects of the carnival. And the reader gradually learns that the charming master of the carnival is anything but.
This is a marvelous story of magic and human feelings. Reamy does a wonderful job of conveying the depth of emotions experienced by the townspeople as the world as they know it comes to an end. We feel pity for the Carnival leader's monstrous creations as they struggle with their humanity. Simply put, this is a wonderful novel and one that I highly recommend.