Miraculous. Caroline Starr Rose. 2022. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: The silent dawn trailed Jack down Main Street, crept with him as he slipped his paste brush across each handbill and smoothed the dampened paper flat.
Premise/plot: Jack, our protagonist, is a young boy traveling with Dr. Kingsbury's traveling medicine show. Dr. Kingsbury sells a 'miraculous' tonic that can cure anything and everything. The greater your faith, the quicker the results. Little to no faith, well, might not get you anywhere. But with enough faith and hope, well, you might just find yourself cured. So he claims. So Jack claims. But after Isaac--another boy, an older boy, disappears suddenly without a trace, Jack begins to doubt everything he's believed up to this point.
Mainly we get Jack's point of view. But there are about three or four other townsfolk who narrate this one. [We do not get Dr. Kingsbury's point of view--thank goodness.] Readers do get a chance to meet about half a dozen or so characters at greater depth. Plenty of folks live in Oakdale, a town/community experiencing drought. Dr. Kingsbury has PROMISED that the tonic (if left uncorked) will even bring the much needed rain to town...
My thoughts: This is an almost book for me. I was this close to being swept up and away into this narrative. I just wanted a tiny bit more. I definitely LOVED Jack (and Cora, a young girl whom he befriends). I was a little more puzzled by some of the other characters. Some I could immediately understood how they were contributing to the story overall. But others not as much.
This had the potential to be dark(er) and spooky. Dr. Kingsbury could have been a bone-chilling villain with a past packed with deep, dark secrets. As it was, readers get a "dark" secret from the past and a "dark" secret from the present. But any consequences for those secrets happen off screen. And the details are left extremely vague. Two missing boys. Missing. There are no answers as to WHAT happened.
This one is definitely rooted more in history than fantasy. The only other novel that I can think of with a traveling medicine show and a magical, miraculous tonic is BONESHAKER Kate Milford. That one is definitely dark and spooky.
© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews