All the Clowns in Clowntown

Macabre

a review by Nalini Haynes

Binko is a clown living in Clowntown, spending the night on watch because Alfie the Hobo has a job elsewhere. To Binko’s horror, he hears the sound of the carousel and calliope whilst on watch. Racing back to his friends and safety, he warns them – the circus is coming to town! In a role reversal, the circus comes to Clowntown periodically to capture clowns who are forced to perform. The clowns know the risks, but their very natures war with their knowledge, making them susceptible to the superficial charms of the circus.

As this is a short story, the less said the better or a review becomes a reveal. I spent most of the story anticipating an awful horror story, but I was surprised. If this was a TV show, it might rate PG.

White-face style clowns tend to polarise audiences; you either love them or you hate them. Those who love clowns will love this story for its elements of story telling, mild horror and humour. Descriptions of slap stick humour evoke white-face clown performances, which would benefit greatly from a more visual medium such as a graphic novel or screen.

This short story was sent to Dark Matter for review as an excerpt from an anthology, Macabre: A Journey Through Australia’s Darkest Fears, edited by Angela Challis & Dr.Marty Young, from Brimstone Press. This anthology was nominated for an Aurealis Award.

Previously published in Dark Matter issue 4, July 2011, blog post predated to reflect the original publication date.