Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry is set in New York in 1895. Sylvan Threadgill, a night soil cleaner (cleaned out the outdoor toilets), finds a baby girl. He takes it home to care for it and find out who the baby belongs to. Isabelle “Belle” Church has fled from her home on Coney Island after the Church of Marvels burned down. Her mother, Friendship Church, and another performer died in the fire. Belle was the main attraction in the show. She is a contortionist and can swallow a number of objects. Her twin sister, Odile, wants to find her sister. She misses her and takes off to Manhattan to find her.
Alphie was married to Anthony until one morning she wakes up in an insane asylum. Alphie keeps waiting for Anthony to show up and rescue her. When he does not show up, Alphie sets out to escape and gets help from Belle. Belle ended up in the asylum the same night as Alphie. At first Alphie does not remember how she ended up there and her story (along with Belle’s) is slowly revealed throughout the book.
Odile starts looking for her sister and runs into Sylvan Threadgill. Sylvan helps Odile look for Belle. The Church of Marvels is a very strange book. I do not want to give anything away (spoilers), so I have tried to keep my summary brief (for me at least). We get to find out about life for the people that are different in 1895 New York (people born with deformities, work as actors, work in circus acts, girls that end up unwed and pregnant). I give Church of Marvels 2.5 out of 5 stars. I just did not enjoy this book. It lacks a nice flow. It is disjointed and confusing. Everything makes sense at the end of the book, but it is a long trip to get to that point.
I received a complimentary copy of Church of Marvels from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The review and opinions expressed are my own.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my review. Have an enjoyable evening and weekend. Happy Reading!
The Avid Reader