Sunday, 28 July 2013

Short Story Sunday, ‘Carniepunk: Parlor Tricks’ – Jennifer Estep

Ever since I downloaded the Kindle app onto my phone I’ve become a bit of sucker for anything on Amazon that’s a free download (and a lot of stuff that isn’t although not so much these days). A couple of hours ago, in fact, I downloaded Jonathan Green’s ‘Dark Heart’ (free download for the rest of today) and I’m actually downloading ‘Pandemonium: 1853’ as we speak. I told you I was a bit of a sucker for anything with ‘£0.00’ next to it :o)

I’d heard about the ‘Carniepunk’ anthology, via Twitter, and it does sound like a more refreshing take on the old Urban Fantasy tropes (don’t get me started again…). When I heard that ‘Parlor Tricks’ was a free download (thanks again Twitter!) it seemed like a great way to score some free reading and get a little taste for the anthology as well (‘Parlor Tricks’ comes with samples of all the other stories). Can’t lose, right? Well, kind of…

Readers who are familiar with Jennifer Estep’s ‘Elemental Assassin’ series will already know all about the exploits of Gin Blanco and her sister Bria. For those who don’t, Gin Blanco kicks all sorts of ass as ‘The Spider’; an elemental assassin in the city of Ashland. That’s all you need to know really as that’s all Gin does here. Another layer of story for long term fans then and a short sharp dose of action for newcomers like me. That’s about all it was though for me. If Estep is looking for new readers then I won’t be one of them.

That’s not to say ‘Parlor Tricks’ isn’t fun to read as it is. Gin and Bria have a missing girl to find in the midst of a carnival that is drawn very well in such a relatively short space. There’s also a nice bit of action, at the end, to round things off with a bang. This one just felt a little too lightweight for me. Not only is the plot very straightforward but it also seemed to feel like there wasn’t enough plot to go round; like it was being stretched to fit with all the atmospheric ‘carnival prose’. I was left in the position where I wouldn’t have minded finding out more about Gin and Ashland but ‘Parlor Tricks’ didn’t quite sell itself well enough to make me actually want to get up and do it. Are there any fans of Jennifer Estep reading? Maybe you could let me know what you think of her books.

As it stands. ‘Parlor Tricks’ was an entertaining twenty minute read but that was about it. If the publisher was looking to stir up some interest in the anthology maybe they would have been better off picking another tale for a freebie…

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