Review: GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn

I found GEEK LOVE on a list from Book Riot—they have great lists, don’t they?—of weird books. When it comes to adjectives, weird is definitely a favorite, so I went to my local library and relieved them of as many of the listed books as possible.


Doesn’t look like much on the outside. Inside is beautiful chaos.

GEEK LOVE was my favorite.

At first glance, it’s a book about carnies. There’s Aqua Boy, a hunchback, Siamese twins, a gaggle of red heads that run the games and rides… but it’s also a book about family and the darknesses that exist between these relationships. The deeper I climbed into the story, the more it reminded me of American Horror Story: Freak Show.


There are no heroes in this book. None of them are wholly redeemable and all of them crawl beneath your skin like parasites. Even narrator, Oly, the albino dwarf hunchback, with all her good intentions, reveals herself to be something less than. But even with all these faults, we find something to admire about each character, even if from a distance. Aqua Boy (or Arty as his family calls him) may be sadistic and hateful, but he’s resourceful and certainly not weak. Reading about Arty split my opinion; one half hated the way he treated his siblings, the other half yearned to be a fraction as self-assured.

The most compelling thing you’ll find when reading GEEK LOVE is that the author held nothing back. There are no such things as taboos. There are no subjects left to innuendo. Incest and murder and dismemberment are commonplace. The world that exists inside the carnival exists only for the sake of the family, which was born of equally nefarious means.


He bit the heads off chickens. For FUN.

Tragic, intriguing, and like a train wreck I couldn’t look away.

GEEK LOVE will leave you reeling, but masterful storytelling and impossible to ignore characters will plant themselves in your mind for a long time after the final page has turned.

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