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The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus
by Jaime Jo Wright
Bethany House Publishers, $15.99, 400pp
Published: September 2020

This was my first read by Jaime Jo Wright and I was not disappointed! The story is well-woven between two timelines: 1928 and the present day. The author has written characters to captivate the reader and I quickly found myself becoming drawn into their stories. There is history steeped in murder and mystery; human characters with real disabilities and insecurities; and budding romance, along with thrills, chills and lurking ghosts.

Wright places the reader into life in a 1920s circus, as seen through the eyes of the owner’s disabled adopted daughter, Pippa Ripley. As Pippa grows increasingly curious about the circumstances surrounding her birth and abandonment, she is beckoned and drawn by an unknown man, called the Watchman, deeper into the forbidden, secret and very dangerous world of the Bonaventure Circus.

The contemporary thread introduces us to Chandler Faulk, a real estate project manager, who is a single mom. Chandler is also struggling with recently being diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease. As Chandler works to renovate the old circus depot, she learns about a series of murders that occurred around the circus during its heyday in the late 1920s and accidentally stumbles onto clues that may shed light on who had actually committed them, exonerating the original murderer.

As the stories unfold, they begin to become similar without feeling repetitive. Both heroines struggle with their physical handicaps and experience trust issues, yet share a longing to belong to their families and the world around them. Both feel fearfully drawn to men who have their own inner struggles and personal demons. While the characters and personal journeys are developing, a gripping mystery is simultaneously unfolding around the Bonaventure Circus.

Are some secrets worth killing for, even a century after the fact?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright. The parallel stories are creatively twisted together with excellent writing and exceptional detail. I'm usually good at figuring out whodunit, but this story had me guessing till the end; that alone was worth the read for me. It was a good book: gripping, mysterious, thought provoking and, of course, a little goosebump-worthy.

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. ~~ Dee Astell

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