After a bizarre incident in Brisbane on his way home from work, Jamie finds himself being harassed by clowns who trash his house in an obscene manner and eventually recruit him as a clown in their circus. The Pilo Family Circus is located on a different plane between earth and hell, and Jamie finds he is trapped in this strange community.
When Jamie puts on the white face paint of the clowns he becomes a different person, JJ an angry and vicious clown. When the paint is removed, Jamie re-emerges, horror struck at the behaviour of his nemesis JJ.
Not having read a lot of fantasy, the genre was a little unfamiliar to me, however I immersed myself in this new world as much as I could. The blurb promised the book would be 'darkly funny' and 'gleefully macabre' and it certainly was all that. The writing was strong, the violence and conflict felt very sharp and unique and the dilemma Jamie finds himself thrown into was very original and equally as dangerous.
I enjoyed reading about the different sections within the circus (i.e. acrobats, dwarfs, carnies) and would have liked to have discovered more about their individual stories and how they became trapped in the circus. I also recognise however that this would have slowed down the pace of the book, so I guess you can't have it all.
Will Elliott has certainly found success with The Pilo Family Circus, winning the ABC Fiction Award in 2006, amongst many others, including a nomination for the International Horror Guild Award. Will is the first Australian to be nominated in the novel category for this award, and I believe more Australian readers should be familiar with his work.
My rating = ***