By a Charm & a Curse by Jaime Questell. Entangled 2018. YA Fantasy. Won in a giveaway!
Amazon’s blurb: A kiss is never just a kiss.
Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.
Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.
Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.
My review: Emma and her cousin go to the carnival after her family moves to town without her mother. Emma is upset to find herself living in small town U.S.A. She wanders off from her cousin, feeling as though she’s not wanted by anyone, and ends up meeting Sidney, the boy in the box. Before she knows it, she’s bending in for her first kiss—and making the biggest mistake of her life. Because the kiss comes with a curse and she has to die and come-back-together before she turns into the new girl in the box. Soon, she’s navigating the carnival, hiding from the police who are searching for her as a supposed runaway, and forced to consider turning someone else into the new person in the box. Along the way, she learns about the charm that keeps the carnival safe and accident-free. As the carnival pulls up stakes and travels to new towns, she meets Benjamin who takes care of her box and discovers something has gone wrong. Or rather, accidents are beginning to happen to the carnival people. As blame turns to her, she and Benjamin try to find a way to break the curse.
OMygosh! I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book! Emma and Benjamin are such sympathetic characters and the charm and the curse keep you enthralled trying to figure out what’s happening and how they’ll stop it. At first, you don’t have any sympathy for Sydney but as the story goes along and you learn more, you change your mind. There are bigger villains at work here though and Emma and Benjamin must race to keep ahead of them. This is a definite KEEPER for me!