After pretty much everyone she knows in the world dies or abandons her, Portia ends up at McGreavy's Home for Wayward Girls, complete with a scary director named Mister. Mister is definitely a intimidating guy and Portia wants nothing more than to find her file, so she might learn where her long-lost father may be.
When things at the home become too much for her (like...more people dying), Portia runs away and ends up working at a traveling circus filled with "freaks", figuring the best way to find her Dad is to travel to different cities. As Portia gets to know the people that make up the acts, she starts to understand that she can still have a family, even if it's unconventional. And when Mister shows up looking for her, she learns what true family really is.
Apparently my new "thing" is circus stories. I loved The Boneshaker from a couple of years ago and just this fall, raved about The Night Circus. Now comes Wonder Show. I wouldn't say I'm in love with this book, but the quirkiness and subtle creep-factor definitely kept me reading. I can see kids really enjoying the oddities and the Lemony Snicket type of writing. It's a weird book, but good weird.
It kind of straddles the line between middle grade and YA for me. The story read a bit younger, but the themes were definitely on the older side. I guess I would recommend this for a teen or mature middle grade reader. Don't want anyone having nightmares!
Middle Grade/Lower YA