cover image Theatre of Curious Acts

Theatre of Curious Acts

Cate Gardner. Hadley Rille, $12 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-0-9839531-5-9

Gardner (Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits), a rising purveyor of high literary strangeness, offers a fresh slice of phantasmagoria densely packed with striking images. A handful of survivors of WWI meet to take in a mysterious performance that lures them into a battle for the fate of the world. Daniel Cole and his brothers in arms may be the chosen ones, but they’re hardly heroes, and their journey through a world of cross-time trains and four wickedly reimagined apocalyptic horsemen is far removed from the usual epic travelogue. Instead, the men get picked off, separated, and befuddled by their potent, cryptic female guides. Only in the powerful conclusion are Cole and his fellows reunited, when their much-abused humanity just might be enough to halt the apocalypse. Gardner skillfully combines a tight narrative with lush prose to create a difficult but rewarding tale. (Dec.)