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Church of Marvels
A ravishing debut novel set in the vibrant, tumultuous world of turn-of-the-century New York, about four outsiders whose lives become entwined over the course of one fateful night
Sylvan, a night-soiler who cleans out privies behind tenement houses, pulls a terrible secret from the filthy hollows: an abandoned baby. An orphan himself, he resolves to find out where she belongs.
Odile is the target for a knife thrower in a show that has lost its magic. She and her sister Belle were raised in the curtained halls of their mother’s Coney Island sideshow, The Church of Marvels. Now the sideshow has burnt to the ground, their mother dead in the ashes, and Belle has run away.
Alphie wakes up groggy and confused in Blackwell’s Lunatic Asylum. She is sure that her imprisonment is a ruse by her vile mother-in-law, and will do anything to prove her own innocence. When a woman who is committed alongside her coughs up a pair of scissors from the depths of her agile throat, a plan is hatched to save them both.
On a single night, these strangers’ lives will become irrevocably entwined as secrets come to light and outsiders struggle for acceptance. From the Coney Island seashore to the tenement-studded streets of the Lower East Side—a spectacular sideshow to a desolate asylum—turn-of-the-century New York comes magically and vividly alive in Leslie Parry’s luminous debut.