Cover Image: The Midnight Circus

The Midnight Circus

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Member Reviews

5 / 10 ✪

The thing I love about fantasy, science fiction, and adventure novels is the fantastical escapism. To be swept up in a story so different from one’s own; to experience something so different and unique and originating from someone else’s own imagination—I feel like it’s the very height of storytelling. 

In a novel, you’re provided with one complete story (generally). There are details your imagination can fill in: the colors of the sunset, the random passersby, the foliage, the fauna, the sub stories not relevant to the plot, et cetera—but the majority of it (the vital, the long and the short) should be related to you. In an epic, less corners are cut; in a novella, more. Novellas often exclude less important pieces of the story, or details like the characters’ dress, their image, their backstory. 

Short stories cut even more out. Often the introduction or conclusion. Sometimes both. Details beyond those most vital to the tale. Characters names, worldbuilding, history, dress, even any discernible plot.

Novels are hit-or-miss for me. Novellas are worse, though I find my imagination more than willing to fill in the blanks so long as I have a general story to follow. Short stories… are difficult. Some I enjoy, most I’m ambivalent to, while others I end up hating. Now, <i>omnibuses</i>—or collections of stories—are never going to be all one or the other. There’s always going to be a mix, some of each. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that most collections (possibly excluding those all set within one shared, established universe) are going to always receive a bit of a ‘meh’ from me.

The Midnight Circus is one of the latter. In fact, it’s maybe even a bit worse.

The Midnight Circus is a collection of some of the works of Jane Yolen, with an emphasis on her shorter horror stories. There was one singular circus tale, but no more. While it’s not dry, exactly, neither is it the kind of thing to whet your appetite.

I can’t think of one tale that absolutely blew me away. There are a few I liked—mostly some of the longer ones, or a few of the fables. There are far more I didn’t care for. Even a few I was bored enough to skim, or even quit on entirely. 

My favorites, few as they were, include Requiem Antarctica, a supernatural take on the South Pole expeditions; and… I guess the Fisherman’s Wife. Otherwise, they were pretty much worthless.

Now, this could just be me: I’ve already confessed to a distaste for short stories, I’m not a huge horror fan (which a majority of the tales were), and I’ve only ever read a few tales by Jane Yolen. That said, sometimes it shouldn’t matter. If you were after this to be your intro to the author and her works—don’t. If you wanted a nice, coherent story to read in your spare time—also don’t. In fact… well. If you’re a huge fan of the author, particularly her horror—this may work for you. Otherwise, maybe skip it.
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A friend recommended this book to me and she has now moved to the Top Ten of my friend's list!  I had not read any of Jane Yolen's back library so my friend....did I tell you she's a really good friend.....recommended I start with this one.  When I researched Jane Yolen, I found she is a very prolific writer who does not sacrifice quality for quantity.  Her fans are all ages and all stages of life and consider her books as must reads.  With that kind of fans, she didn't need a new reader, but I certainly needed to read this book.  I like to keep a book of short stories or an anthology in active rotation so I can read where ever I happen to be.  Sometimes ther is not time for a chapter or two but there's usually a brief story that will fit into the time I have available.

The stories are short, but fully formed starting on page 1.  There is no lack of character developement, you quickly love or hate them with not much middle ground.  The fantasies are woven so well into real communities that you feel at home immediately.  Some of them feel as if they could be expanded to be a full novel but they are also great short stories.  And as always, I loved some and was just okay with some but overall, this book has placed Jane Yolen on my must read list.
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The Midnight Circus is a collection of genre-bending short stories. I enjoyed a few of them but most of them did not hold my attention for too long.
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Jane Yolen writes such fantastical short stories that weave together to make an incredible story! These short stories have great lessons that can be used to deepen any class lesson. A great resource for your classroom!
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Let me start off by saying that I have read a lot of Jane Yolen (and I don’t just mean her How Do Dinosaur series, although it is one of my daughter’s favorites.)  I like that what she writes is not necessarily what you expect and that there are a lot of fantasy and magical realism elements in her writing.  And several of these stories are just creepy enough to make you uncomfortable.  

The first time I read these stories, I wasn’t a big fan. Sure, there were a few that stood out as ones I liked or made me really think, but overall, I just didn’t really like this one.  But I didn’t write my review right away because I wanted to think about it some more.  And then when I finally sat down to write my review, I honestly couldn’t remember much about the stories themselves.  So, I picked it up and read through most of the stories a second time.  And this time, I was a lot more impressed.

I’m not going to go through all of the stories, but while they all made me feel something, some stood out as ones I liked more than others.  The Weaver of Tomorrow about a young girl who wants to know the future and is apprenticed out to the Weaver of Time was a short but powerful story touching on free choice and getting what you wish for in the worst possible way.  Wilding is an incredibly strange story about sometime in the future when societal violence is under strict control, and the only way people can let loose a bit is through what might be thought of as actual reality or a real-life videogame-like experience.  (Honestly, it’s hard to describe, you just need to read this one.)  

I also appreciated the notes at the end of the book, though, and I almost wish that each one immediately followed the relevant story, since I think her personal stories about what she wrote and the poems she included added more depth to the stories themselves.

Thank you to Tachyon Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  It has not influenced my opinion.
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I've read a previous Jane Yolen short story collection and loved it, so I was very excited to read this one too! The author has such a beautiful way of crafting stories and each tale has something unique and special. It's impossible to pick a favorite particular story, as they are all so good, so I won't, but I will say this is definitely a title and author everyone should read!
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A book with beautiful prose, some of the stories were extremely sad and heart breaking, but the exquisite writing style made me not able to put this short story collection down. 
The stories were original and heartfelt, I want to read more books by this author in the future.
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What can I say about a book by Jans Yolen that is higher praise than saying it reads exactly like  Jane Yolen book?

Yolen is this generation's expert on fairy tales, fables, and folklore, myths and monsters. She is a storyteller, and she writes as a storyteller would speak, mesmerizing her readers with her words.

Yolen has many books for children, this is decidedly not one of them. These tales - modern fairy tales, princesses gone feral, Bible stories reimagined, and also stories that pay a dark sort of homage to Yolen's Jewish heritage - are simmering with a deeper kind of fear, and with anger, with desire, and a stubborn courage.

Yolen writes the magical, the mythical, and the disturbing into a series of stories that will often leave the reader troubled, a bit off kilter, or deep in thought.

Yolen is a master at her craft and the world is lucky to have her.
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I love books like this!! Have so many little stories to make one. Some of them definitely stand out more than others but they all kept me so engaged
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I had never tried Jane Yolen's work before so this collection came as a sweet surprise to me. The collection holds true to its promise of  dark, fairy tales and I enjoyed most of the stories. 
The writing is smooth, simple and it definitely transported me to the world the tale is set in. 
I read a tale each night before bed and it gave me the escapism that I needed. 
I would definitely recommend this collection!
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Actual rating: 3.5 stars     I had never read a Jane Yolen book before diving into this short story collection, although being a huge fantasy reader, I had heard her named mentioned quite often. 

With a title like the Midnight Circus and knowing most of the stories were dark fairy tales, this collection was perfect for what I was craving to read. 

For the most part, I really enjoyed the stories in this collection. Most collections will have a few duds, which this collection had for me, but I was very impressed with Yolen’s writing and a few stories have become new favorites for me, including The Snatchers, Wilding, Requiem Antarctica (a vampire story unlike any I have ever read) and An Infestation of Angels (a creative, fantastical twist on the story of Moses guiding the Israelites out of Egypt). 

I especially enjoyed reading the accompanying poem after each story. Some of the stories were written especially for this collection and some have been previously published. You’ll also get a little note by the author on why she was inspired to write each story. 

If you like dark fairy tales, I’d recommend this collection. I am even more eager to pick up a full lengthen novel by Yolen in the future. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this advanced reader copy.
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I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. It is well written and the characters are described well. Her writing style will keep you on the edge of your seat from the first page.This short story collection is great. It is in stores now for $16.95 (USD).
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Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.  It was a great fan tasy/sci-fi anthology!!  I always averaged my ratings of each story to get my anthology ratings
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A terribly inconsistent mix of short stories by Yolen.  Some are brilliant, some are lacking.  Not Yolen's best collection.
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This book was a surprise. Wasn’t what I was expecting. I picked this book for the beautiful cover. To be honest I went really blind going in the book. The book is magical short stories You will have a favorite short story and not so much one. I loved the lore, descriptions, and magical plots.  My favorite chapter(short story) is Little Red, I’m a sucker for retellings and this rendition was beautiful. 

I think this book would be a great gift for any book lover during the Christmas time!
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If you’ve read Jane Yolen, you love her writing. It is always lyrical and full of beautiful imagery. Midnight Circus shares those qualities. The anthology, while darker than anything I’ve read in per picture books, is haunting in a much more literal sense. Still, it does not lack what makes her an expert wordsmith. Each entry is beautifully rendered even if every entry is not equally enjoyable. All in all, it’s consummate Yolen. 

I was given this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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I really wish I had the forethought to rate each story in this anthology, because it was really a mixed bag. As with all the anthologies I've read, there were some bad, some spectacular, and a lot of meh stories. There is no denying that Jane Yolen is a brilliant writer. I do struggle with how short these short stories were though- most less than 10 ebook pages. There are moments in the others that I think carry real weight but they don’t quite reach the level of intrigue and curiosity that that story summoned within me but the beauty of anthologies is that each reader will come into this book and be able to connect with a story
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So… my expectations about this book were a little off; I was thinking it was NEW stories by Jane Yolen. I grew up reading her stuff and was excited to read <i>The Midnight Circus</i>. But in this collection I came across two stories that definitely should have had trigger warnings—"Little Red” for self injury and “Names” for disordered eating—a lot of dated gender tropes and one story that managed to be sexist, racist, and fat phobic, and then I realized that story was written in 1985. Which doesn’t really excuse it but does at lest put it in a context of then-social norms. 

All of that being said, there are some great stories in here and the poems that tie into the stories as well as the information about them were fun and interesting additions.  My favorite stories were “The Snatchers,” “Requiem Antarctica,” “Winter’s King,” and “Names.”
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It doesnt support or open after I download the pdf version of it. It's also not showing in my shelf in netgalley and I cant open it to read Please look into the issue and if you can send me the pdf in my mail ID- I cant read the book from here. Please look into the issue
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3.5 stars

This book...well, collection...was not really what I was expecting. I was anticipating a set of short stories that wove together in some way telling the stories of circus performers. That was absolutely not the case. These stories do not really have a cohesive theme, other than being fantastical in nature and having an overall dark tendency. I do like fantasy and I do like dark, so that was good, but there was nothing at all that would lead me to entertain the idea of a circus. I feel that the title and cover (as well as the synopsis and foreword) are wildly misleading. That did put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, as I like to be able to feel that the reader can trust the author and this felt a little bit like trickery.

Despite getting off slightly on the wrong foot, I do have to say that the writing is quite good. I enjoyed the fairy tale feel to the majority of the stories and I found that Yolen's range of creativity is quite expansive. She is incredibly descriptive in her work and she creates a great atmosphere in the stories she creates. There is also an incredible variety present and it's clear that Yolen is no niche writer, her talent expands much beyond that.

As for the stories themselves, it was a mixed bag. There were a few I really enjoyed (4 - 4.5 star level) and a few I really didn't (1-2 star level). The majority were simply average and didn't really sway me either way. I mentioned that I do enjoy dark stories, but there were some seriously overly dark moments that very much turned my stomach and caused me a lot of pause with continuation of the book. I can handle violent, I can handle creepy, but the sexual exploitation of minors is not something I want in my reads. As a whole, the read was a fairly quick one, with none of the stories feeling sluggish or off-balance in terms of pacing.

Short stories are difficult in that fleshing out a solid ending is not in the cards, so I did expect some semi-open endings going in. This was what occurred for the majority of the tales. However, what I got was more choppy and awkward in some cases. The ends were quite jolting, almost feeling like they left off mid-sentence or mid-paragraph. This made those particular stories feel like a waste of my reading time and created additional feelings of frustration with my read. The content just wasn't sufficient. They read more like writing samples rather than actual tales.

While I very much appreciated her writing and her writing style, there was just a lot of awkwardness to the read and too little that gripped me. That left The Midnight Circus solidly in the average rating area for me. Once again, some of the stories did read much better than others (as you would expect in a short story collection), so there are pieces of this book I would rate much higher. There are absolutely readers for this work who will enjoy it more thoroughly from cover to cover.
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