I love when stories have circuses. From the magic and mystery of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern to the weird and eerie Dead Moon Circus in Sailor Moon, the setting has so much to offer. I can even appreciate the creepy circus aesthetic in horror movies even if I’m way too much of a wimp to watch them.
So I was hooked when I first learned about Spectacle by Megan Rose Gedris. Here’s the blurb:
Pragmatic engineer Anna works as a psychic in the Samson Brothers Circus, but she doesn’t believe in anything supernatural—until her twin sister Kat is murdered and comes back as a very demanding ghost. Sharing a room with her sister was hard, but now they’re sharing a body while trying to identify the killer. With few leads, a troupe full of secretive folk, and strange paranormal occurrences popping up around the circus, solving the case seems near impossible. But the murderer in their midst may be the least of their problems…
Like all of Gedris’s comics, the cast features characters of varying races, sexual orientations, and body types. The character design is fantastic, and you’ll never have reason to complain that everyone looks like basically the same model with different hair and eye color (with the exception of twins Anna and Kate). They’re all super fun to look at, with bright colors and dynamic facial expressions.
Anna is my favorite. I’m a fan of when logical characters are put face-to-face with ghosts (which you may have guessed if you’ve read The Ghost Machine), and Anna’s attempts to deal with the supernatural lead to some good comedy and character beats. She actually inputs the question “Do ghosts exist?” into her steam-powered conjecture engine, which I love.
Mainly, I enjoy that she’s an introvert who doesn’t always know how to deal with people.
A Compelling Mystery
Another benefit of all these unique characters running around is that there’s no shortage of suspects. I honestly have no idea who killed Kat, and Anna comes across all kinds of secrets and red herrings as she investigates. She also learns more about the backgrounds and personalities of the cast in the process, which is great. Plus, there’s tons of drama going on between the different factions within the circus, which makes it feel like a realistic, complex community.
Kat’s ghost is hanging out, of course, but she seems to open Anna up to seeing a bunch of other ghosts, too. Then there are these weird symbols, flashbacks to something occult and mysterious in the twins’ past, and strange paranormal stuff happening at the circus. There’s no telling if it’s related to Kat’s death or something completely different, and I can’t wait to find out.
Spectacle is just plain excellent, with great characters in a mesmerizing setting, and just enough depth and pathos to make it meaningful. The comic is currently ongoing, and you can read the first several issues for free at SpectacleComic.com, which updates with new pages every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s also available for purchase on Amazon and Comixology.
Go try it out and get mystery-solving!
Have you read Spectacle? What’s your favorite fictional circus? Let me know in the comments.