Title: Cirque Berserk
Author: Jessica Guess
Page Count: 111 pages
Rating: 5 / 5 ✨✨✨✨✨
I need to start this by telling you to immediately go check out Unnerving’s REWIND OR DIE series – it’s incredible so far, and I’ve been having so much fun with every single book in it I’ve read! Of the ones I’ve been able to get my hands on, Jessica Guess’ CIRQUE BERSERK does an incredible job following the format of compulsively readable novellas packed with enough action, gore, nostalgia, and fun to please fans of late 80s/early 90s horror pop culture especially as the fourth book in the series. I’m so glad this series, and this book, exist! They’ve been such a fun way to pass the time during quarantine, let me tell you what!
CIRQUE BERSERK is slasher fun at its finest, and I’d recommend it to all horror lovers, but especially those who favor a good story involving a handful of teens that end up dying terribly gruesome (but awesome!) deaths. The story switches from a horrific event in the past to a group of friends in the present, thirty years later, who decide to visit the abandoned old carnival where the tragedy took place. I love stories with back and forth time settings, so this was especially a treat for me as a reader, feeling like I was getting two stories in one until they finally both intersect in a way that totally took me by surprise.
I loved Guess’ interpretation of a few classic horror tropes, and especially enjoyed the way she turns them completely on their heads by the end of the book – the twists here were so much fun, and I won’t say too much to avoid spoiling them, so go into this one with as little info as possible if you can! The carnival setting especially was the perfect treat for me, since circuses in particular are some of my favorite places to visit in horror.
The character that Guess created with Rochelle in this one is one of my absolute favorite points in this book, and honestly in horror fiction in general – she’s a powerful main character, and the more I learned about her, the more I loved her. She completely flips the script of a role that horror traditionally tries to reserve for Black women as the “expendable best friend”, and I’m in awe of the author’s ability of bringing such a badass to the horror table. I could absolutely see this being turned into a movie, and can even imagine people dressing up as Rochelle for Halloween – roller skates, bubblegum, and all!
One of my favorite books of the year, and I can’t give it high enough praise – if you’re a fan of the genre, you need to check this one out! I’m going to be reading everything else I can get my hands on from Jessica Guess in the future, and can’t wait to see what else she does in horror.
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