The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright
(From the Publisher: ) 1928 — The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.
Present Day — The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than she could have ever imagined.
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This dual-timeline mystery was my third read by Jaime Jo Wright and, can I say, my absolute favourite of hers so far.
The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is creepy and chilling; full of ghosts and circus lore. The first timeline is set in the late 1920s and follows the story of Pippa — the adopted daughter of the owner of Bonaventure Circus. Guarded by a mysterious figure named The Watchman, Pippa can’t help but feel compelled to uncover her circus roots. Her connection to a dying baby elephant is a touching analogy for her own feelings of neglect and rejection, as she searches for the truth about her birth parents.
The second timeline is set in the present-day and is centred around Chandler. As project manager for the old circus grounds, she dives into the depot’s history in hopes of revitalizing the area. This half of the story also depicts a character that feels both flawed and real, as she struggles with aspects of being a single, working parent with a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease.
Both timelines were beautifully written with intriguing plots and page-turner chapters. Unlike traditional Christian fiction, the author isn’t afraid to explore some darker and edgier emotions and elements. The dialogue felt honest and I enjoyed the character growth and motivation in both timelines.
I also really enjoyed the romantic interactions written throughout the novel. Often times, I find that romance can distract from a suspenseful plotline. But in the case of The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus, the development felt realistic and the characters were ones I wanted to root for.
While the final motivation for the modern-day antagonist felt a little weak, this novel was a deliciously creepy read that kept me hooked until the very end. A solid four stars for this one!