The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliot

The Pilo Family Circus - Will Elliott

Jamie is minding his own business when he spots some creepy clowns about town acting more than a wee bit strange. One drops a small bag containing some suspicious powder. When the coast is clear, Jamie picks it up and brings it home.

Well, wouldn’t you?!

This little incident of finders keepers brings the clown smack down upon Jamie and his roomie after the two accidentally ingest some of the clown powder. And there’s nothing funny about it. These clowns aren’t the happy go lucky, nose-honking types and they do some unimaginable gross-nasty things to Jamie’s abode. It’s pretty scary what they accomplish in a short span of time and from there on out Jamie’s life gets seriously messed up. Jamie finds this note tucked into the mouth of a dead bat:

“Sleep tight? Thirty hours to pass your audition. Make us laugh, feller. That’s the assignment. We don’t care how. We don’t care who gets hurt or killed. Make with the chuckles, you pass . . .

Gonko, on behalf of the Pilo Family Circus”

Creepy, no?

Jamie, likely out of fear, does something so oddly funny that the demented clown leader actually laughs. He has passed the “audition” and is now a reluctant apprentice in The Pilo Family Circus. Jamie has no say so in the matter. The clowns are intimidating, persuasive and violently unpredictable. Jamie plays along, foolishly thinking he will make a quick exit from this nightmare as soon as he can. That doesn’t happen. Once the clown paint is slathered upon his face he becomes a new person and JJ the Clown takes over his body. JJ is unpredictable, mean just for kicks and refuses to follow the rules. He’s also a big cry baby which I have to say began to grate on my last nerve after a while. He also wants complete control of “the body” which was once owned by Jamie.

This is a weird ass book about a very twisted circus. The backdrop and the acts that inhabit this bizarre circus are painted with some vivid detail bringing the strange and tormented characters to life in my head. I could easily picture each one and felt especially bad for the once normal people touched by the “matter manipulator” who turned them into freaks for the sake of the show and were forced to do terrible, painful things to their bodies to entertain the masses. That bit disturbed the most. There are the typical petty jealousies you usually find in a book of this kind, with bad tempered carnies and lots of backstabbing but everything is amplified in this story. I don’t think I liked any of the characters, except for maybe Jamie, but I didn’t get to know him well enough to comment either way. And as much as I would’ve liked to have known more about the clowns, especially Doopy and his bizarre brother Goshy, this book wasn’t about getting all cozy with the characters. It was about the circus and the mayhem The Pilo’s unleashed upon the world. It was an imaginative book with some big ideas that wasn’t nearly as horrific in an in-yer-face sort of way as I’d anticipated. It took some big twists that surprised me but mostly I enjoyed the skewed writing.

Here’s a little taste of some of the offbeat descriptive moments and dialogue that litter the story:

“George Pilo marched in with someone at his heels, a fat man with eyes so close together it looked like they were sharing a socket.”

And my personal favorite moment of dialogue:

“Listen up. Shut your fuck flaps!”

This isn’t a book for everyone but if you’re in the mood for a uniquely strange read this will do the trick.