cover image The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour

E. Catherine Tobler. Apex, $14.95 trade paper (204p) ISBN 978-1-937009-81-6

The nine stories of this peculiar, genre-bending collection from Tobler (The Kraken Sea) revolve around a magical circus train that has been running since the 19th century and is racing toward the end of the world, stopping at various locations in the United States along the way. In “Vanishing Act,” the train stops in Roswell, N.Mex., in 1947, where ringmaster Jackson encounters an alien hiding out in the body of a little girl. Subsequent tales tell of how several of the circus’s members came to ride the train: “We, As One, Trailing Embers” features conjoined twins hiding a dark secret in 1911 New York, while the uncanny “Liminal” focuses on the spirit of a dead girl who can occupy her sisters’ bodies in 1880 Colorado. The surprising “Lady Marmalade” and eccentric “Every Season” both feature jars of jam that capture and contain people’s memories. Though the stories hop between different times and tones, the circus train provides a connective thread that seamlessly ties the collection together. Readers looking for a dreamlike diversion will find plenty to hold their interest. (June)