Review: “And the Carnival Leaves Town” by A. C. Wise

2 of 5 stars.

This fever-dream of a horror-detective tale melds creepy clowns [that’s just a little redundant] and a departing carnival with murders and disappearances. But the cases range over many decades and possibly centuries.

People disappear, stripped bones are found and a carnival that few knew was in town, leaves town. That’s what passes for a pattern. Except when it doesn’t. Some of the “evidence” involves archaeological relics telling a folktale of a girl that commits patricide by murder of tame crows. Another clue is in the form of a black-&-white film reel depicting a live human dissection followed by seemingly the same in reverse but with a different ending than the beginning.

Nothing adds up–within the realm of the tale or the telling of it. Even the narrator cannot tell what is a dream or not by the end. Mostly, this tale is reminiscent of scenes from Naked Lunch with its drug haze, but without the context.

“And the Carnival Leaves Town” appears in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror: 2015 edited by Paula Guran and published by Prime Books. It first appeared in Nightmare Carnival, ed. Ellen Datlow (Dark Horse Books). I’ve previously enjoyed and reviewed Wise’s “Letters to a Body on the Cusp of Drowning”.
[Check out my other reviews here.]


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