End of the World House

Adrienne Celt. Simon & Schuster, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982169-48-0

Celt (Invitation to a Bonfire) returns with a confounding fun house that plays with the nature of time and existence to diminishing returns. In a near future, a restless California cartoonist named Bertie travels to Paris with her best friend, Kate. Things turn dark when Kate accepts an offer from a man named Javier to take a private tour of the Louvre. The moment they set foot in the museum, Kate disappears, and Celt introduces Dylan, a past (or future?) boyfriend of Bertie’s. Nothing makes sense after that, and with Kate gone, Bertie and Dylan return home (or do they?). When Dylan reacts strangely to Bertie’s idea for a graphic novel, Bertie realizes something is very wrong. Dylan seems to know everything about her, but he’s keeping something big a secret. She takes another trip to Paris and begins to sketch out her novel (which turns out to be picture after picture of Kate), and returns to the Louvre to look for her friend and confront the upside-down world she’s discovered. Some readers may be initially hooked by the ambitious premise, but storytelling pyrotechnics aside, neither the narrative nor the characters are fully realized. It’s intriguing, but more so frustrating. (Apr.)
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