Carnival – Chattanooga is the sequel to Carnival – Decatur and follows the continuing story of Jesse and Donny’s budding relationship. The stories must be read in order and as a result of the continuity between Decatur and Chattanooga, this review may contain spoilers for the first story.
The carnival continues its circuit, arriving in Chattanooga, with Jesse’s dad sick and refusing treatment, and Jesse is feeling the strain. Donny is so far gone when it comes to Jesse and their behavior has garnered attention, not something you want in the carnival or the South. Donny is torn; he likes Jesse but wants to stay in the closet while Jesse, who already knows the future, wants to come out to everyone, much to Donny’s dismay.
Chad and best friend Brigette are on their way to Chattanooga for a convention, and on their way, they drive past a carnival. For some reason, Chad feels compelled to stop and check the place out. The carnival is not yet open and somehow Chad is drawn in, further and further in, until he collapses on the ground in agony, his healing skills taking on the sickness that afflicts someone at the carnival.
New to Chattanooga, Dax wants the best for his dad, but he wants to move back to Memphis even more, so much so that he decides to run away. On his trek down the highway, Dax discovers the carnival and unable to resist the temptation, sneaks onto the grounds for a look around. A locked gate may stop other people, but not Dax who uses his telekinetic skill to gain admittance to the funhouse.
The boys are somehow drawn to Macon Brothers Carnival, seeing the future, healing the sick, and moving objects, among others. But can Chad heal ailing Mr. Macon without killing himself in the process? Can Donny allow himself to step out of the closet and find love? Can lost and lonely Dax make his way “home” to Memphis where he won’t be bullied anymore? Only time will tell if the boys will find their happy ever after.
This was a pretty good continuation to Carnival – Decatur although I did find it a bit of a challenge to get back in the swing of things since it has been quite a few months (and books) in between installments.
Of note are the roles that Chad, Rand, and Tate play in the story, Chad as a key secondary character, and has a continuing friendship with Rand and by default Tate. I felt a bit of a disconnect with the secondary characters compared to the various main characters. Now there was no doubt that Jesse and Donny were key players in the story, especially considering Jesse’s dad’s ongoing illness, but newcomer Dax and returning favorite Chad also took centre stage, perhaps to set them up for a featured role in the future.
That being said, there was a lot going on with all of these characters, and although I did not find it difficult to follow the action, it did feel scattered at times, with lots of mini points of conflict peppered throughout the book, threatening the cohesiveness of the story.
To me, it was obvious that Lynn was plotting the story with a solid big picture view because the continuity was smooth, and the world of the carnival had some solid elements to it. I am not saying that I have any first-hand knowledge of how a carnival runs, but my impression was that the world building was yet again realistic and I couldn’t help but be drawn in. The cast of secondary characters who work at the carnival also showed consistency and at times took some of the spotlight from the boys.
The end result is that I did enjoy Carnival – Chattanooga, just like I enjoyed Carnival – Decatur, regardless of the issues I identified in my reading. If a follow-up book is released, I will most assuredly be picking it up to see what happens next, and to whom.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.