Tripping to Somewhere by Kristopher Reisz is a novel about two girls who run off to find the Witches' Carnival.
"A band of gypsies tramped across the earth, sweeping the bonds and boundaries of the modern world away with a brush of a hand. Nobody knew where they came from. Nobody knew where they'd turn up, but the Witches' Carnival was always headed somewhere. They moved on the edge of your vision and melted away like fog the moment you turned to look."
Gilly is a Birmingham, Alabama, teenager with a major self-esteem problem. Her dad's a crooked cop. And she's in love with her best friend, Samantha, who sleeps with her sometimes, but is straight. Sam has her own problems: a bad relationship with her mom, a creepy stepdad, too much love for Xanax. They both have plenty to run away from.
"The Witches' Carnival was the name and shape given to every fantasy of running away and leaving it all behind. It was the fantasy of the open road, the fantasy of motion and speed until all your problems became a blur. But most importantly, it was a fantasy."
As Gilly and Sam follow a homeless man's hint to Atlanta in search of the Witches' Carnival, their lives turn upside down. First, they steal $50,000 of previously stolen money from Gilly's dad. Then they crash a nightclub where they believe the Witches' Carnival is partying — and fantasy becomes reality. The Witches' Carnival exists.
If something so crazy is real, you'll do crazy stuff to make sure you can be a part of it. And Gilly and Sam do exactly that.
This book is SO worth a read. The language is sharp, the story is vivid, the characters are completely, heartbreakingly human. I'll warn you: There's lots and lots of strong language. There's (gay) sex. There smoking and drinking and drugs and lots of awesome nightclubs. There is tragedy, and there is coming of age. It's not for everybody. But if you liked Holly Black's Tithe, if you like your fantasy gritty, and if you don't mind having your heart ripped out, read this book.
A note on where to get it: Tripping to Somewhere was originally published in 2006, and I don't know if you can buy a new paper copy anymore. I actually read an ebook on my iPod, so get yourself an ebook (Barnes & Noble, Amazon), or check your local library. Highly recommended!