• The Good: Love affairs, poetry, and a bohemian lifestyle
  • The Bad: Need to watch the show to fully appreciate character dynamics; Limited fantasy elements
  • The Literary: Themes of classism, racism, same-sex relationships with the backdrop of an imperialist war

In Amazon Prime’s television show Carnival Row, immigrant fantasy creatures are forced to live in the industrial world of man. Human detective Philo investigates a series of gruesome murders, and his life is complicated when former faerie lover Vignette arrives in the city. Vignette places her trust in and takes advice from a fellow faerie and old friend, Tourmaline. The show is beautiful on-screen, with extensive mythology and world-building, but overall it’s good, not great.

This novella, Tangle in the Dark, is a prequel to the show. At a university in a prominent city, Tourmaline Larou lives a bohemian lifestyle of idle debates and parties. She occasionally attends class, writes poetry, drinks too much, and is overly promiscuous. When her new roommate, Vignette, arrives from the outer provinces, Tourmaline initially scoffs at her unrefined country ways. They grow closer, eventually becoming friends and lovers, until the looming threat of war is too much for their relationship.

The feel and tone of the story is consistent with the show, and exploring Tourmaline’s backstory and the faerie world pre-war is fun. If you enjoy the show, you’ll enjoy the book!