The Myriad Carnival

Edited by Matthew Bright. Lethe (lethepressbooks.com), $15 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-59021-573-9
Bright brings together 17 eclectic and sometimes surprising tales of vicious magicians, desperate contortionists, unexpected sharpshooters, and the marks who pay to see them, in this anthology about queer identities and fantastical circuses. Raymond Luczak’s “September Song” is a touching coming-of-age tale about a man who lands at the carnival for the turning points of his life; over time, he discovers his sexuality and, ultimately, his need for genuine human connection. Evey Brett’s “El Amor Brujo” chronicles the intense, satisfying journey of a man on the run who encounters a malevolent spirit that’s bent on keeping him from love. B.R. Sanders’s “The Sharpshooter” is a simple story with some pleasing twists, and Kate Harrad’s “Feeding Time” will leave readers thinking twice before interacting with angels or mermaids. Enthusiasts for the experimental will find fodder in Sarah Caulfield’s wistful exploration of a fairy tale in “Nettlestrings.” The specifics of the eponymous carnival change from story to story, but a mood of the strange, eerie, and poignant suffuses the anthology and provides coherence. Some of the stories disappoint, but overall this is a quality compilation. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015
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