Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

23 Sep

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 even an abandoned train depot could portend.


Jaime Jo Wright loves to read — and write — fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance from her home in Wisconsin. She’s a coffee drinker by day and night, lives in dreamland, and exists in reality.


My Impressions:

Sometimes writing a review is effortless — you easily check off the boxes of plot, setting, characterization, theme, etc. But other times a book is one that defies simple description. The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright is one of those. This dual timeline novel is complex and multilayered and deserves a slow and thoughtful reading to glean all of its goodness. It took me a while to read this book — it is definitely not a quick and easy read. But it is one that is highly recommended!

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus has two storylines: one set in the present day, and the other in the late 1920s, both in Bluff River, Wisconsin. The mysteries of both time periods are intertwined and call out to be uncovered. Main characters Pippa and Chandler appear to have little in common, until the reader gets into their heads. Insecurity, doubts, and the tendency to run away from hard things plague both characters, yet their desire to discover what is true in their worlds urges them on. Setting plays a large part in the novel, and Wright creates a town and its circus that capture the imagination. The mystery builds slowly, gaining momentum as the book heads toward its ending — I could not keep the pages turning fast enough as more and more is revealed. The ghostly aspect created some delicious little shivers. And the twists? Let’s just say I was surprised numerous times. Wright also kept me engaged in both stories, leaving me eager to visit both periods as the narrative shifted. There are a number of themes and spiritual truths expressed in Haunting. All speak to the reader’s heart. I have followed Wright on social media for a while now, and I appreciate how much she poured her own story into this book’s pages. Many things are disclosed at the end of the book, but the rest of Pippa and Chandler’s stories are left up to the reader’s imagination. I chose to create very happily-ever-afters for both. 😉

I have read all of Wright’s novels, and I think The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus is my favorite. A great book for discussion, I urge you to gather some book-loving friends to read this one. I promise you will have a long, meaningful, and fun conversation.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)



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