Review by Frank Plowright
The longer Spectacle has continued, the stranger it’s become. As if to prove the point Megan Rose Gedris begins Book Three with the wedding of Gus and Lottie. Nothing strange about that, you may feel, but that’s before knowing that Lottie’s face appeared on the back of Gus’ head during Book Two, one of many transformations that occurred. So far there are hints, but no exact reasons why it’s happening to folk at the Samson Brothers Circus, and nor is Anna any further down the line in discovering who murdered her twin sister Kat. Just as well Kat’s still hanging around as a ghost to help out.
Gedris considers Spectacle a long form novel she’s serialising over five volumes, so there shouldn’t be any expectation that anything’s going to be wrapped up in a hurry. Having noted that, though, there is some movement on the murder plot and the answer to another mystery is revealed. However, the greatest strength is the large, and largely likeable cast, and while Anna continues to be the primary character, now that we know so many others, they’re seen as well, along with some looks back into the past.
The art continues to be a limiting factor, with not enough variety to the way people are shown, although the individual drawings are fine. Gedris’ style is unconventional, but this far in it’s almost impossible to imagine the cast being brought to life in any other way. However, in the final chapter there’s some surprising artistic experimentation, most of it being in just red, black and white, and it shows Gedris the artist in a whole new light. The figures take on a more classical aspect, and it’s striking and distinctive.
Much is revealed in Book Three, including, at the end, what happened to Anna and Kat as children, and the tone becomes consiberably more sinister. Until now, despite the deaths and transformations there’s been a lighthearted feel to Spectacle, but with some answers revealed, that’s now gone. On the other hand, this has been the most engrossing outing to date, and sets the scene for Book Four very nicely indeed.