Grounded by concrete pop culture details, each strange narrative makes what’s familiar seem eerie ... While shared histories and established intimacies give many of the stories the fodder for their central conflicts, each story, no matter how strange, is also narrated in a cool, unflappable tone. Ghosts may breeze through rooms, but the ways that they’re addressed remain matter-of-fact. As a result, what’s surreal in each tale glows, even when set against unkempt and dingy settings ... Strange and evocative, the short stories of The Adventurists skip between worlds; human regrets and foibles are centered in them, regardless of the tales’ unexpected turns.
Butner’s stories are wonderfully insidious in a number of ways ... What we might call the inverted portal – one which leads to a more familiar world from an unfamiliar one – isn’t entirely new, but the sheer strangeness of the tale makes it one of the more compelling ... If not quite a new voice, Butner’s is one of the most distinctive and memorable I’ve encountered in quite a while.
Landscapes and memories alter, gentrify, and crumble in Butner’s flawless debut collection, which wends ghosts, virtual futures, and the intricacies of friendship into 16 breathtaking, intimate stories ... Butner pairs clean, elegant prose with keen and generous human insight, unique imagery, and a broad range of interests, treating Renaissance faires, 1980s counterculture, and rich small-town worlds with the same loving deliberation. Readers of John Crowley, Ray Bradbury, and Sally Rooney alike will find a home in this beautiful, grounded exploration of pasts and futures—and the people suspended between them.
Butner has a knack for a quirky, eye-catching premise ... The stories’ arch tone, offbeat scenarios, and folkloric elements bear a resemblance to George Saunders' and Carmen Maria Machado's work, though Butner has his own thematic obsessions ... too often, these stories don’t rise to their promise, occluded with plot or dense prose that smothers the wit and insight Butner strives to bring to them ... Clever, high-concept stories that sometimes lack in the telling.