Jamie is a bit of a pushover. A guy in his early twenties struggling through a thankless job and completely unsure where he wants to end up, he accidentally stumbles his way into a mess with a troupe of clowns who resemble Pennywise more than Bozo in temperament and actions. Soon enough, he is given a choice: join up with them and their circus, or die. Jamie makes the obvious choice – to don the white face paint and play along until he can sneak away. Only once the face paint is on, Jamie finds that he doesn’t want to sneak away. With the paint, mild Jamie becomes vicious JJ, probably the meanest clown the circus has seen in a while. JJ loves the mayhem that he can create, and soon comes to resent Jamie’s plans to get out, deciding that there is only one way to stop him. If JJ wants to stick around, they both realize, he’ll have to do something about Jamie for good…
Not half as creepy as I thought it would be, but not necessarily worse for that, either. I found the infighting and maliciousness between the circus performers and the Pilo brothers themselves much more interesting than the backstory of how the “tricks” were lured into the circus and what the white crystal was. I still don’t know if Goshy was truly as insane as he appeared to be or just very, very smart and thus very, very deadly. The real creepy ones in the novel were Gonko and Kurt Pilo, though I found the latter to be far creepier when he was being jovial than when he was angry. JJ I thought was a bit of a joke, and only felt his menace and insanity towards the end. I also liked that no one was truly nice or sympathetic – even James was too much of a coward to really be likeable, though he does get points for acknowledging his own cowardice. I also like that we are shown that JJ is a part of Jamie through his own propensity for cowardice. Basically this story brought out the less savory aspects of everyone’s character, with not much to redeem them in the end.