Will Elliott (3 stars)

The Pilo Family Circus (Quercus)

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HORROR DRAMA

If anyone, anywhere still finds clowns anything other than deeply sinister, this book is the one to change your mind. Excessively violent and twisted, it’s like some garish cross between The Magic Faraway Tree and Stephen King’s worst excesses. Still, and despite such schlocky potential, young Brisbane debutant Will Elliott’s prose is sharp and engaging.

When Jamie - a young man who is so buttoned up that he meticulously arranges his room in order to impress girls and lets his filthy flatmates walk all over him - breaks down on his way home from work, he witnesses three gruesome clowns arguing in a deserted car park. Retrieving the item they’re looking for, he then finds himself harassed into ‘auditioning’ for them, and eventually joins their number as his twisted alter ego JJ in the grim subterranean purgatory they emerged from. Lurching and staggering towards a bloody conclusion, this intriguing book mixes fantasy with psychological horror to squirming effect.

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