The newest book based on the hit Weird West RPG franchise Deadlands!
Step right up to see the oddities and marvels of The Blackstone Family Circus and Travelling Wonder Show! Gasp at pit wasps the size of a man’s forearm. Beware the pumpkin-headed corn stalker, lest it plant its roots in you!
Annie Pearl is the keeper of oddities, the mistress of monsters. Her unique collection of creatures is one of the circus’s star attractions, drawing wide-eyed crowds at every small frontier town they visit. But Annie is also a woman running from her past . . . and the mother of a mute young daughter, Adeline, whom she will do anything to protect.
Hoping to fill its coffers before winter sets in, the circus steers its wagons to The Clearing, a remote community deep in the Oregon wilderness, surrounded by an ominous dark wood. Word is that a traveling show can turn a tidy profit at The Clearing, but there are whispers, too, of unexplained disappearances that afflict one out of every four shows that pass through the town.
The Clearing has it secrets, and so does Annie. And it may take everything she has to save her daughter―and the circus―from both.
EXCERPT from Deadlands: Boneyard
At the back of the train—not quite the end, which was reserved for the wagons containing the dancing bear, the aging lion, the strange, terrible creatures of the oddities wagon, and the human attractions of the freak show—a small wagon bounced along, pulled by a pair of mules. One wore a straw hat. It was the sort of foolish affectation adored by children everywhere, and the mule bore up with stoic silence, plodding ever onward. Like so many of the teams in the circus train, the pair had been tied to the wagon ahead of them.
Unlike so many of the wagons around them, the occupants of this one were awake. Sadly so: Annie Pearl, mistress of the freak show, feeder of lions and bears and whatever else she was asked to care after, sat restless and awake beside her daughter’s narrow bunk, mouth pursed tight in worry.
“You’ll feel better if you take your medicine,” she said, in the cajoling, hopeful tone that has belonged to mothers since the very dawn of humanity. “Come along, now, Delly-my-dear. Be a good girl, and let me soothe your throat.”
Adeline shook her head. The wagon lights struck stubborn glints off her dark doe’s eyes. Annie sighed. Seven years old and the girl was still stubborn as a post, and twice as difficult to budge.
“I know you don’t like the taste of it, but there’s nothing to be done for that,” Annie said. “When we come to the next town, I’ll see if I can’t set enough aside to buy you some cherry syrup. Won’t that be fine?”
Adeline eyed her mistrustfully. She knew her mother well enough to know that an offer of that sort always came with strings attached.
“But you have to take your medicine now.”
Adeline frowned and shook her head fiercely, raising her right hand in the sign that meant ‘no.’
This time, Annie’s sigh was heavier. “Delly, you won’t sleep until you take your medicine. Until you sleep, I won’t sleep. If I don’t sleep tonight, I won’t be able to handle the bears in the morning. Do you want your poor old mother to be eaten by bears?”
Adeline giggled soundlessly at the thought before signing, ‘Bears would get sick on you.’
“Yes, probably, and then where would you be? Another circus orphan, and you can’t even sing for your supper. Really, you’re much better off simply keeping me alive, which means letting me give you your medicine so we can both get some sleep tonight.”
Adeline rolled her eyes. Recognizing the first signs of a pending concession, Annie sat back and waited.
Copyright © 2017 by Seanan McGuire
Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.
Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan’s anecdotes end with things like “and then we got the anti-venom” or “but it’s okay, because it turned out the water wasn’t that deep.” She has yet to be defeated in a game of “Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?,” and can be amused for hours by almost anything. “Almost anything” includes swamps, long walks, long walks in swamps, things that live in swamps, horror movies, strange noises, musical theater, reality TV, comic books, finding pennies on the street, and venomous reptiles. Seanan may be the only person on the planet who admits to using Kenneth Muir’s Horror Films of the 1980s as a checklist.
Seanan is the author of the October Daye urban fantasies, the InCryptid urban fantasies, and several other works both stand-alone and in trilogies or duologies. In case that wasn’t enough, she also writes under the pseudonym “Mira Grant.” For details on her work as Mira, check out MiraGrant.com.
In her spare time, Seanan records CDs of her original filk music (see the Albums page for details). She is also a cartoonist, and draws an irregularly posted autobiographical web comic, “With Friends Like These…“, as well as generating a truly ridiculous number of art cards. Surprisingly enough, she finds time to take multi-hour walks, blog regularly, watch a sickening amount of television, maintain her website, and go to pretty much any movie with the words “blood,” “night,” “terror,” or “attack” in the title. Most people believe she doesn’t sleep.
Seanan lives in an idiosyncratically designed labyrinth in the Pacific Northwest, which she shares with her cats, Alice and Thomas, a vast collection of creepy dolls and horror movies, and sufficient books to qualify her as a fire hazard. She has strongly-held and oft-expressed beliefs about the origins of the Black Death, the X-Men, and the need for chainsaws in daily life.
Years of writing blurbs for convention program books have fixed Seanan in the habit of writing all her bios in the third person, so as to sound marginally less dorky. Stress is on the “marginally.” It probably doesn’t help that she has so many hobbies.
Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. In 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo Ballot.
Photo Credit: Beckett Gladney