The Emerald Circus

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

I don't have the best of luck with short story collections. Starts out great, ends with a little whisper. This was no exception. Some stories were awesome, others I didn't care less about.
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I keep coming back to this book!

I have put it down a couple of times, but I always pick it back up. To me, that's the best part about a collection of short stories. You can absorb them in small doses, and you can always come back without feeling like you've put it down for too long. 

It was so easy to jump back into after a break. I love fantasy, and I love circus tales. This collection checked off both of those boxes, so I was sold pretty quickly. The retellings are imaginative and captivating. I am always willing to give re-tellings a lot of leeway and don't necessarily need them to be solidly tied to the original. I enjoy creativity, and Yolen did a great job. I will definitely be revisiting these stories over the years and sharing them with my friends/audience.
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I absolutely love short stories and the fact that Holly Black did the intro was enough for me. Each and every story was SO GOOD!!! Such new takes on fairy tales. A breath of fresh air for sure.
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Jane Yolen is a genius and each of these stories is it's own kind of jewel. I wish I had read her notes  and the accompanying poems in the back after each story instead of all at once at the end-- "Note on a Dried Cod" is short and almost a non-sequitur, but it a) tore my heart out and b) was worth the price of the book --but either way, I appreciate the context they provide. I love the little bite-sized wonders that are Jane's stories and poems. And that cover.
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I've loved Jane Yolen's books since I was a kid which is when I read a lot of them and this is why I chose to request this one.
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I'm a sucker for fairy tales and old folklore stories so I was attracted to this book immediately. Thankfully it did not disappoint. I absolutely loved Jane Yolen's style and the re-tellings of the stories. It's charming, adventurous, and enjoyable for not only YA but older readers as well. It's the perfect book if you're looking for magical short stories that are able to take you to another land in less than 30 minutes.
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There’s no need to introduce Jane Yolen, writer of children’s and young adult books whose name was pretty much all over my childhood book shelves. She is most famous for writing folklore and fantasy, reinventing classic tales and often paired with illustrators whose work will look immediately familiar to any child of the 90’s. This latest collection is certainly composed of typical Yolen material, but, after reading “A Knot of Toads,” a story featuring a long dormant evil forces brought to life in a small Scottish town, I realized that The Emerald Circus is not for kids at all. (By which I mean kids who don’t have nightlights. Because I definitely needed one.)

The stories are hit-or-miss. Some follow a pattern that, for Yolen, is almost formulaic by now, taking a classic tale and subverting its original intent with adult themes or feminist reprisals. The story “Lost Girls,” about Wendy arriving in Neverland and then trying to unionize a collection of “lost girls” is a great example of this.


My favorite was perhaps the title story, which follows Dorothy Gale, picked up in a twister — as in the original narrative — but instead of landing in Oz, she finds her way into a circus. Yolen has a distinct form of sarcasm that, rather than turning its nose up in cynicism, seems to twinkle its eye in a kind of delightful inside joke.

If you love Jane Yolen, you’ll love this book. No doubt. It is clever and funny and it definitely has its beautiful moments. There is also the fairly interesting feature of Yolen’s notes on each story — how they came about, both creatively and pragmatically — combined with a related poem.

My recommendation is to pick up a story every once in a while, rather than reading them all at once. ‘Round about the story called “The Gift of the Magicians,” which is a Beauty and the Beast vs. Gift of the Magi mashup, the whole project started to feel a bit gimmicky, which isn’t quite fair to Yolen’s well established talents. Yes, she has a certain schtick that she follows, and yes, that schtick can get a bit stale, but picking up the book from time to time with fresh eyes (which is, honestly, the way all short story collections should be read) would circumvent some of the formulaic feeling.
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Could not really hold my interest, I was really hoping that it would be better but I really lost interest quickly.
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Loved how whimsicle and weird these stories were. This is the kind of book I can see returning to again and again, because each time you'll pick up something new. So many nuances hidden in each tale.
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An anthology of short stories including some inspired by my favorite childhood tales? Hand it over. Some proved to be more of a hit than others, but overall, The Emerald Circus is a highly enjoyable collection. In all honesty, I initially only requested it because I saw Holly Black's name on the cover but as I got more and more into the book, I came hugely appreciate Yolen's writing skills. The Emerald Circus is a lovely book that I'm glad to have read.
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Eh, I am always hit or miss with Jane Yolen, and combine that with a book full of short stories this is a solid three. There were elements and stories I liked and ones I didn't.  The cover is beautiful, makes me wish I had this is a physical copy.
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I initially enjoyed this book after requesting it. I'm a huge fairytale fan and I couldn't wait to read a new spin on some old classics. I found some of the short stories more engaging than others, which made the book difficult to read. I enjoyed what was going on but I didn't find all the retellings exciting; the concepts weren't always different enough for me. I did like what I had read but eventually did not finish the book because I lost interest. The ideas were there but it just didn't work for me, unfortunately.
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I have to admit that before picking up this book i had never heard of Jane Yolen. Turns out she's an acclaimed writer with many fascinating books. Another thing I have to admit is that I love short stories. I know how hard it is to tell a whole story on a limited number of pages. Some of the stories in this collection were entertaining, some were not. The problem that I had with Emerald Circus was that once the story was over I forgot about it. Unfortunately I cannot name a single story that stood out for me, All I remember about this book is that the stories were retellings of old fairy-tales. But wait, there's one more thing that I remember and it's that Emerald Circus was a very well written book. Fantastically well. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to read good writing. And if you like old fairy tales with new twists and turns, then this book is for you.
Many thanks to the publisher for the ARC.
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I was excited to read Jane Yolen stories and was not disappointed. For a collection, this one was well balanced. Loved her take on Wendy and Neverland.
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I have never read any of Yolen's work before picking up her collection of short stories, The Emerald Circus. The Emerald Circus is a short story collection that takes fairy tales and beloved stories and completely reinvents them. My favorite story in the collection is "Lost Girls" where a young girl becomes Peter Pan's newest "Wendy." She is forced to clean and take care of the Lost Boys along with the other Wendys and she can never go on adventures. So what does she do? She decides to go on strike with the other Wendys. I ended up thinking of the original story of Peter Pan in a whole new way. I would definitely recommend this collection to fans of fairy tales and fantasy novels.
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I received this book for free from Netgalley and Publisher/author in exchange for honest review. 

Ever since I have read Caraval and Night Circus, I can not get enough circus related books. This one did not disappoint. It is filled with of short stories. Her version of fairy tales. I have never read a book by this author but I truly enjoyed the writing style. This book was just amazing. 

The author did a great job translating this story.
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This collection of fairy tale and other story retellings is imaginative and well written.  I really like Jane Yolen's stories so this would be a great addition to any fantasy collection.
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In the past couple of months, I’ve really come to appreciate collections of short stories. Having had to write my own this past semester, I can appreciate them even more. To me, writing a short story takes some skill and tact. Successfully tell a well-paced piece that keeps your attention throughout its short pages. Get from point A to point B without dragging along, or stuffing the reader with too much information too quickly. A successful short story is one swift movement from start to finish.
	For this review, I read The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen. It’s a collection of short stories that involve revisiting of classic fairytales, clever historical fantasies and myths. Generally, people don’t have the taste for short stories or collections—which I totally get. In high school, where I was constantly conscribed to read for English, I hated short stories and found myself wanting to read volumes like War and Peace instead. And this is just my humble opinion, but short stories offer the same gratification of reading an entire novel in just one sitting. And, as hypocritical as it may seem, I do still prefer a full-length novel. But I will not shy away from short stories.
	I highly recommend Yolen’s Circus. The stories are clever and offer many “aha!” moments. For example, her story, “Lost Girls” gives a new take and perspective of the beloved Peter Pan. When a girl from our present era is swept away to Neverland, she discovers the unsavory nature of Peter’s household. In protest, she introduces some modern ideas to really turn the tables. But this short story, among the others, gives an example of the twists and turns that I’ve really enjoyed about this collection.

If you are a fan of short stories, collections, witty fairy tale retellings, and magical realism, I highly recommend this!

Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for this opportunity!!
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This is another short story collection that just did not work for me. Here I made it around 40% through before putting it down. I found the retellings a bit too on the nose while the language did not work for me. While there is nothing wrong with these stories, they just did not excite me in the least - and I don't want to be reading books that don't excite me or give me something new.
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“‘I have had the love of children from all over the world because of my stories. A child’s love is the perfect love, for it is given with a whole heart. That love will outlast me a hundredfold. And it will outlast you as well.’”

I received a free e-copy through NetGalley from the publishers at Tachyon Publications. I love fairytale retellings, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Jane Yolen.

The Emerald Circus is a collection of short stories inspired by fairytales, legends, and folklore including The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and Arthur & the Knights of the Round Table, among others.

This is kind of a mixed bag, and I wish I had enjoyed it more. While I did like a handful of the stories, I also struggled to get through some of them, and there was nothing in it I absolutely couldn’t live without. Usually in a collection, one or two stories will hit me pretty hard, and that never happened here. The funny thing is that I’m not sure why. They’re very well-written. Aside from a few editing typos, Yolen has a beautiful prose-voice, and she’s obviously perfected her craft over the years. I’m a little confused about who the audience for this book is. I went in thinking it was for children/middle grade, because that’s what I’d heard about Jane Yolen, but I think I can say it’s emphatically not for kids. Many of the themes are much darker or more sexual, and even the writing itself is difficult at times. I’m hesitant to even call it a YA collection, but I think it’s somewhere on the spectrum between YA and adult.

I did like some of the stories. The first is a strong retelling of “The Snow Queen” with a twist as Hans Christian Andersen as the main character that was very enjoyable. I always enjoy Alice in Wonderland stories (of which there are three), but they don’t bring anything particularly new to the table. My favorite was easily the title story, “The Emerald Circus”, which pulls in some Wizard of Oz mythology. The story takes a rather meandering look at Dorothy’s history in Kansas and how she gets blown away by a tornado and joins the circus. I can see why it doesn’t work for a lot of people though because the story isn’t really about Dorothy, and the circus barely features. If anything, it’s a story about wanting more, and while it takes a while to get to its point, the message really resonated with me.

I didn’t care for “Lost Girls” at all. While I’d love a feminist version of Peter Pan, and I support the utility of strikes and picketing, the story only reinforces that girls can’t fight pirates; they can only be captured by them. “Evian Steel” unfortunately has the underlying message that menstruation is unclean and “The Quiet Monk” that homosexuality is wrong, and I just don’t appreciate references like that in my fantasy that go unchallenged. They’re small things, but they represent much bigger and more problematic worldviews, and they can really kill a story. The rest of the collection is just kind of… boring. “A Knot of Toads” has a cool premise but spends most of the story wallowing in darkness, and “Evian Steel” is unnecessarily long and lacks action (especially for an island full of women who make swords).

There are two stories about classic writers that stand out if only for their change in topic. I love the idea of incorporating figures like this into the rest of our collective mythology which, in a way, we already have. The Edgar Allan Poe story doesn’t quite take off, but I loved the Emily Dickinson one, which is surprising because I usually can’t buy into aliens unless they’re the premise of a story. (As a premise, fine, then I know what I’m getting into, but as a way to explain bad plot choices, absolutely not.) It’s lovingly written though, and Dickinson makes for a clever, sympathetic main character, the realest in the entire collection. I would read a whole book about her. All in all, this isn’t as good as I was expecting, but I’m still interested to read more of Yolen’s work. I have The Devil’s Arithmetic waiting on my shelf, which is no guarantee of reading it soon, but someday.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
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