The Midnight Circus
by Jane Yolen
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Pub Date 01 Oct 2020 | Archive Date 01 Feb 2021
“Jane Yolen has done it again.” —Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
In the newest short fiction collection of this World Fantasy Award-winning series, beloved fantasy author Jane Yolen’s dark side has fully emerged. Her vivid, startling, and thrilling tales and related poems of the supernatural—from icy-hearted witches to sometimes-innocent shapeshifters—reveal a classic storyteller at the height of her powers.
In these sixteen stories, Central Park becomes a carnival where you can—but probably shouldn’t—transform into a wild beast. The Red Sea will be deadly to cross due to a plague of voracious angels. Meanwhile, the South Pole is no place for even a good man, regardless of whether he is living or dead.
Wicked, solemn, and chilling, the circus is ready for your visit— just don’t arrive late.
A Note From the Publisher
“Jane Yolen's stories are pure magic! They draw you in, beguile your senses, and paint the world in richer hues than you've ever seen. Her tales will haunt you in the very best way. I loved every word!”
—Sarah Beth Durst, author of Race the Sands
“Look this way, look that; blazing her consummate imagination against the shadows of human sorrow, Jane Yolen has done it again. She has produced a set of spectacles designed to keep us awake in the darkness. The Midnight Circus delights, confounds, and challenges. We read all the night long; we are not the same come dawn.”
—Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked and A Wild Winter Swan
“The Midnight Circus explores an unexpected aspect of a beloved author and reminds us why Yolen’s writing means so much to us . . . essential reading for all fans of Yolen’s work, especially those who are less familiar with the darker side of her imagination.”
—The Fantasy Hive
“The Midnight Circus sings with magic, darkness, and wonder—perfect for anyone who has ever loved a fairy tale. Thrilling and chilling all at once, this collection of stories will keep you riveted long after your bedtime, no matter your age. This is exactly the kind of dark, lovely book to keep close to one's heart while facing down darkness in the wider world.”
—Meagan Spooner, author of the Starbound Trilogy
“A girl uses magic to call her love but not to keep him. A child born in winter hears voices calling to him in the cold wind. A lonely man falls for a selkie who sings an enticing song. Yolen often uses the language and imagery of fairy tales to weave her original, spellbinding stories, which make a cohesive collection. They’re all dark, though in most cases, that darkness encompasses loss but doesn’t revel in it. As Yolen puts it in her introduction, there's “a frisson of terror rather than massive amounts of spilt blood.” A couple of stories veer closer to true horror: The main character of “Great Gray” is drawn to the rare owls of the title because of his own predatory instincts, and the narrator of “Little Red” endures hinted-at torments because the alternative of returning home to her grandmother is somehow worse. But, as promised, there’s very little blood in these pages—just glimpses of the darkness of human nature. Some stories, like “Inscription,” read like Celtic folktales while “Requiem Antarctica” is a Jamesian tale of creeping madness at the ends of the Earth, and “An Infestation of Angels” is a retelling of the book of Exodus. And if the stories themselves somehow aren’t enough, each is accompanied by a poem that extends its themes into evocative verse. Haunting stories from a modern master.”
“In 16 well-crafted stories, Yolen reveals the dark underside of her imagination, delving with surgical precision into horror, suspense, and the psychological fabric of nightmare ... The collection spans science fiction, mythology, and fairy tale, and despite its often gory imagery, remains imbued with Yolen's characteristic dry wit ... An engrossing collection that will linger in readers' minds long after reading, and a perfect (re)introduction to Yolen's rich well of fantasy horror. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Leigh Bardugo.”
—School Library Journal
“Each deliciously spooky tale in Jane Yolen’s Midnight Circus draws readers into fully realized worlds with strong characters who reflect the strengths—and the darkness—in all of us. She mixes storytelling styles to excellent effect, from disturbing folklore to futuristic shapeshifting, grounding them in history and legend, so they are at once familiar and utterly, terrifyingly alien. I love Jane’s storytelling EVEN WHEN IT GIVES ME NIGHTMARES. These short pieces are can’t-put-down, and they will absolutely make you shiver like someone is walking across your grave.”
—Susan Vaught, author of Trigger
“This collection teems with Yolen’s weird, folkloric verve. Her menagerie of stories is distilled from a cauldron of fairytales, legends, and history, featuring everything from selkies to shapeshifters; witches, weavers, and warriors; and angels murderous to ravenous.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books
“Yolen’s The Midnight Circus retains her traditional magical beauty while she pulls back the curtain on the darkness backstage . . . Get your ticket, join the queue, and get ready for beauty, horror, sadness and beauty.”
—Universe in Words
“Overall, this is a wonderful collection of tales that is perfect for sitting around the campfire or for a fun fall or winter read (definitely Halloween worthy)!”
“A master writer with a prodigious oeuvre and these are some of her best dark stories.”
“As a whole, this collection of a career’s worth of successes is a celebration of an American author that is often times called a modern Hans Christian Andersen.”
—Haunted by Deadliness
“Every story is excellent. I didn't want to stop reading.”
Praise for the Jane Yolen Classic Fantasy Series
“Jane Yolen is a legend in the world of children’s and young-adult literature, but her acerbic and witty adult fiction and poetry offer their own pleasures. ”
“An invaluable reminder of Yolen’s central role in contemporary fantasy, and perhaps an equally invaluable starting point for readers.”
—Locus on The Emerald Circus and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
[STARRED REVIEW] “These delightful retellings of favorite stories will captivate newcomers and fans of Yolen as she once again delivers the magic, humor, and lovely prose that has attracted readers for years.”
—Library Journal on The Emerald Circus
“Jane Yolen facets her glittering stories with the craft of a master jeweller.”
—Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity on The Emerald Circus
“This collection is Jane Yolen at her best.”
—Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles on How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
“Yolen’s deftly-flowing prose highlights each unique perspective or imaginative speculation. Her tales, once fractured, don’t splinter—they sparkle.”
—Alex Flinn, author of Beastly and Beheld on How to Fracture a Fairy Tale
Review mailings to leading trade publications; ARCs available via NetGalley, Edelweiss, and Goodreads
Review copies to leading newspaper book reviewers, fantasy and young adult blogs, publications, and leading fiction publications
Social media rollout to include fantasy and YA-themed blog and podcast features, author and publisher push on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads
Author international, national and online appearance, book tour and launch events TBD
Average rating from 136 members
A wonderful collection of short stories! Each one is it’s own self contained story that is just perfection. I really had a fun time reading them! Something about each of them felt magical and just a little haunting. Definitely go check out this collection!
This collection is filled with stories that a have an eerie sort of vibe. Think fables with a Night Gallery or Twilight Zone type tone. Just like with those shows there is a pretty big variety in the themes and genres that fall under the dark creepy mood. The range is impressive considering it is all from one author and has certainly lured to me to read more from Jane Yolen.
I enjoyed every story but Little Red and The Fisherman's Wife were my absolute favorite. I also thought the end with story notes and poetry added a personal touch to the collection. The poetry shouldn't be missed so make sure you read on after the stories. The story lengths also have a nice range, some really brief and others a touch longer, though all of them pack a full experience.
The cover had me intrigued and I I requested it. Thank you NetGalley and the Publisher for an e ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is such a lovely collection of short stories. Definitely worth reading. It was an engrossing and a wonderful collection of short stories.
It was perfectly magical and eerie. A fantastic compilation. Full of magical world.
My favorite was 1.The Night Wolves and 2.The Snatcher. If magical creatures are your thing, do not miss this wonderful book. Perfect Halloween or a cozy winter read, huddled in a blanket with a nice cup of hot chocolate.
I just love Jane Yolen so much. Her stories are beautiful and strange in the most wonderful ways. I have never read a Jane Yolen story I didn’t like, and the ones in this book are as good as ever. They pull you in with their mix of magic and heartbreak and people you feel like you’ve somehow met before. Please, Jane Yolen, never stop writing.
Holy shit! This was so atmospheric and interesting, a genuinely great collection of short stories. I love a book that gives off a seasonal vibe so I definitely would recommend this to anyone book shopping this autumn!
Jane Yolen has written and gathered this wonderful anthology of stories.She always manages to make stories fresh and interesting with all of the "once upon a time" allure of the classic fairy tale. A delightful read.
The Midnight Circus is a spooky and charming collection of short stories by Jane Yolen. Jane Yolen is such an incredible and prolific writer, especially when it comes to tales that we assume we already know. Drawing upon familiar elements in fantasy, Yolen presents a collection of short stories that are unique and encompassing. The collection is well-balanced, featuring themes of fantasy and horror. There is something in this collection for everyone, from selkies, shapeshifters, red caps, and vampires.
I love stories that relate to mythological sea creatures, so my favorite stories were about the selkies and mermaids. I did find myself completely engrossed by the story of legendary explorer Robert Scott. The story questions- what if Scott had a secret reason for adventuring to Antarctica? With poems and additional information provided about the creation process, the collection is very satisfying. I would highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of short stories or fantasy. The Midnight Circus releases October 1, 2020. Thank you to Jane Yolen, Tachyon Publications, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This collection of short stories is rather peculiar and they are very dark stories that are thoroughly enjoyable. If you love Black Mirror, this book will be for you.
I think that it has some stories that feel very unique and others that seem like a retelling of something familiar. I thought the writing style was excellent and I would love to read more by Jane Yolen.
Thank you to Tachyon Publications and NetGalley for the eARC of this brilliant book in return for an honest review.
Do you like ghost stories? Sci-Fi stories? Do you like spooky campfire stories? Stories that give you goosebumps? Fables that teach important lessons? Then you need to get your hands on The Midnight Circus.
Short description from the publisher: "Welcome to the Midnight Circus - and watch your step. The dark imaginings of fantasy icon Jane Yolen are not for the faint of heart. In these sixteen brilliantly unnerving tales and poems, Central Park becomes a carnival where you can - but probably shouldn’t - transform into a wild beast. The Red Sea will be deadly to cross due to a plague of voracious angels. Meanwhile, the South Pole is no place for even a good man, regardless of whether he is living or dead. Wicked, solemn, and chilling, the circus is ready for your visit - just don’t arrive late."
This is exactly the kind of book I hope for and so seldom find. Jane Yolen's short story collection is like if Shirley Jackson, Aesop and Mother Goose had a baby and gave you all the dark fairytales you can handle. Highlights for me were:
• Little Red - a re-imagining of Little Red Riding Hood but way, way darker.
• Wilding - a futuristic Twilight Zone style story with both Sci-Fi and thriller elements.
• The Fisherman’s Wife – mermaids, skeletons and TRUE LOVE..oh my!
• Become a Warrior – revenge is a dish best served with blood and lust.
The story notes and poetry at the end of the book really enhance the experience and I highly recommend reading them. This collection of stories ranges from legends to folklore, mythological to biblical. Yolen’s descriptive writing transports you straight into each tale like it is being told to you in front of a fireplace, cup of cocoa in hand.
I cannot wait to get my hands on a physical copy of this book. The cover is perfection! I will be recommending this book to anyone who loves dark fairytales and beautiful writing.
Jane Yolen’s new short story collection is nothing short of magical. Here she brings together tales and poems that were either published elsewhere previously or written for the dark fairy-tale collection.
The Plot in a Nutshell
As this is a short story collection, I will try to summarise each story in a sentence or two, so you can get an idea of Yolen’s wonderful mind.
The Weaver of Tomorrow
A young girl wants to know the future and becomes apprenticed to a weaver who can teach her how to know, but it comes at a price.
The White Seal Maid
A lonely fisherman meets a seal who turns into a woman, but will a marriage to her ease his loneliness or end in woe?
A sixteen-year-old boy keeps seeing a mysterious man in black, who is he and how does he connect to the boy’s religious history?
A New York teen spends her evenings “wilding”, changing her DNA to an animals for five hours. But what will happen if she, and others, loose control?
Requiem Antarctica (with Robert J Harris)
A clergyman is called upon in the middle of the night to attending a dying man who tells a story of the famous north pole expedition by R. F. Scott and his real fate.
Ten-year-old Pete has a lot to deal with: wolves under his bed and a bear in his closers, but at his new house he knows he has to deal with a new problem: a crying ghost.
The House of Seven Angels
A wandering Rabbi comes to a sleepy town near Kiev and a small boy’s life is forever changed.
A young, troubled man watches and worships the owls he sees in his town, but has his obsession caused a madness?
Little Red (with Adam Stemple)
Little Red uses her wild imagination to escape her hellish reality. (A re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood.)
A boy who can her the wind must endure losses to find his real family.
Set in the 1500s, a young woman falls in love with a traveller and employs the help of a witch to bring him back to her.
Dog Boy Remembers
A young man learns an acute sends of smell as a child, which is used in cruel ways by his horrible father.
The Fisherman’s Wife
A fisherman’s wife is deaf and mute, but when he disappears she vows to find him and in doing so discovers secrets of the sea.
Become a Warrior
A girl flees her home so she isn’t taken by the soldiers who had killed the men in her town, she lives her life hoping she will avenger her father.
An Infestation of Angels
As the leader of the “people”, a woman must convince the gluttonous overlord that he is in danger in order to save her own people.
A girls’ mother remembers the death roll call names she heard growing in a concentration camp, hearing this over and over has a heart breaking impact on the girl.
Jane Yolen is such an important author. I started reading her when I was studying the holocaust and got interested in how to teach children about the history. Yolen has a number of fiction books that turn the holocaust into accessible fiction stories for children and teenagers. So when I saw this coming I was very excited to read it.
As a collection, The Midnight Circus is brilliantly constructed, each story paired with a poem and an explanation about where it was first published and where Yolen had the idea.
Even though I loved every story, I had my favourites. The White Seal Maid was haunting and affecting; Wilding read like a classic YA novel and could easily be turned into a book; Become a Warrior is a bit like a mixture of Mulan and the Hunger Games. I also have a soft spot for Requiem Antarctica which takes the story of R. F. Scott and turns it into a dark fantasy, as one of the longer stories I can see how Yolen thought it might even become a novella, but I liked the length, it was long enough to read before bed but not too long that it took more than one sitting.
What I really love is Yolen’s imagery. Wether she talks about sea towns or forests, London or New York, the 1500s or the near future, she has his ability to transport you there in an instant.
Yolen is undoubtably a “dark” author. In her introduction she speaks about this herself and her views about what it means. In The Midnight Circus she deals with issues such as the Holocaust, eating disorders, abuse, obsession, revenge and (perhaps darkest of all) love. Although these stories are “fairytales” they are not children’s stories, they are fairytales for grown ups, or mature teens, and I can’t wait to rave about it to anyone who will listen.
This collection of short stories is a welcome addition to any library. The stories are simple, in the way that Grimm's Brothers stories are, but haunting, in the way only the best Gothic horror stories are. Each story has its own pacing, its own ideas, and at the end of the book you can read the original poems that inspired them. The author does not waste words, but uses every one to capture the life of the story in a familiar and personal way. Sit back and enjoy these lovely horror stories, and dream about them when you sleep...
A true spectacle of stories, Jane Yolen’s The Midnight Circus treats readers to a wide variety of acts, from the not-so-familiar-anymore Central Park to the desert of Antarctica. Toss in a few mermaids, wicked beasts, and questionable heroes, and it’s the perfect combination of magical and grim.
My favorite aspect of fairy tales and folktales is that more traditional versions of these stories do not shy away from the gruesome parts of living. Neither do Yolen’s. In these tales, familiar characters find themselves reinvented into more twisted versions that cause the reader to question just how chilling life can be, and even the happiest stories have a tinge of warning laced throughout. Regardless of the story, each of the pieces included in this book draw the reader right in with Yolen’s vivid depictions and sense of character.
One of the most impressive facets of this book is the wide range of the stories within. Yolen has crafted a collection that spans a vast variety of folktale roots, real life inspiration, and settings. Because of this, I particularly liked the Notes section at the end of the collection, which detailed the writing journey behind each tale and a poem. I really enjoyed this book, and it was the perfect read for when I needed a touch of something short and enthralling.
***ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for my review.
Jane Yolen's career is based on the fairy tale, and there's a pretty big chance that if you're a reader of fantasy you've likely come across one of her 365 BOOKS. Literally, you could read one of her books every day for a year and not run out of material. The Midnight Circus collects 16 stories from her writing that I wouldn't necessary call horror, but are most definitely on the dark end of the story spectrum.
The Midnight Circus features stories that are frankly, all brilliant (and I'm still mad about that. Yolen, how do you do it?). They include a story teenagers who go to Central Park to thrill in temporarily becoming wild beasts, but one who almost doesn't make it out after trying to prove that they are stronger than safety precautions. It features a story of an abusive Red Cap and his son learning to fight back. It also features a story of how the Israelites may have fought off punishing angels much like a vicious mosquito or really large pest that they learned to use to their advantage. In short, even with 16 stories there is not a slouch between them. Be aware that these stories have previously been published in magazines and other collections, so if you have taken up my joke challenge about reading a different one of her books per day you'll probably see some familiar content.
The Midnight Circus is a great collection for readers who like their stories a little on the dark side of fairy tales, but with mostly satisfying endings.
Look for The Midnight Circus from Tachyon Publishing October 1, 2020.
A new collection of older stories from a master storyteller. Some are dark as a new moon night, others are as bright as day, but still with a darkness lurking within. Selkies and singers, wolves and Wild Things, owls and angels, all lurk within. Step into the tent: the show is about to start.
This is a collection of short stories from the amazingly talented and legendary Jane Yolen. Two of the stories are co-written. Little Red is written with Adam Stemple and Requiem Antarctica was written with Robert J. Harris.
As with any collection, every single story may not appeal to you, but people will vary as to their favorites. My favorites (in order) were: Become A Warrior, Night Wolves, Requiem Antarctica. and Inscription. All of the stories are tinged with darkness, but some of them were too dark for me. However they are all exquisitely written.
If you love fairy tales, fantasy, the paranormal, horror, or history you will find a story that appeals to you in this collection.
I received a free copy of this book from Tachyon Publications via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.
I have had my eye on The Midnight Circus for months and months and I was so excited to get a digital ARC copy. I read and reviewed both The Emerald Circus and How to Fracture a Fairy Tale when they first came out and I enjoyed them both. I do believe that The Midnight Circus is my favorite of the three. Probably because I always enjoy a good dark fairy tale.
Jane Yolen is the queen of the fairy tale genre and this collection of her previously published stories had everything I have come to expect from a master storyteller. Each of these stories had a level of spookiness that I relished. There was one story in particular that unsettled me enough to get up and check on the kiddos in bed to make sure that the Redcap hadn’t stolen them away.
One of my favorite parts of these books is the collection of notes and poems that accompany each story. I loved reading how and why Jane came up with each story. It helped enrich each tale even more. The book is just all around fantastic.
I’ve read a few story collections by the author and some of her longer work and am quite a fan. I was looking forward to getting lost in this new collection of dark tales. These stories all touch on the supernatural in some way, some darker than others. I liked the fact the stories were all quite different despite dealing with similar themes / same genre. No two stories were alike. In most story collections I’ve read there tends to be one or two stories that don’t quite fit or work. That’s not the case with The Midnight Circus. Every story is excellent. I didn’t want to stop reading. The best stories were Wildling, The House of Seven Angels, Inscription and An Infestation of Angels.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 'the midnight Circus', step inside... soulless acts of deadly defiance await.
A dark descent into a circus of twisted transformations, thrilling 'performances' of daring devilry and trickery. Weaving magical tales of timely prophecy and a taste of sweet vengeance or two, you can be certain of one thing and one thing only... a flickering of life snuffed out within a moment or two. Trust no one, not even yourself, for your mind maybe entranced or even bewitched by the wicked, even your soul may drift yonder. Please cover your necks and keep a priest close, for you never known when death may visit on swift wings, WATCH OUT for these are no angels! You might perish in the fiery acts of the devil but all is not lost, you may spot a gallant hero or two!
A thrilling series of short stories that are easy to devour but no so easy to swallow. They may haunt you at night and a peaceful slumber may not come.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed 'Welcome to the Midnight Circus', award winning author Jane Yolen has written a series of poignant tales of chilling wisdom that had me entranced and truthfully I found it hard to put the book down. What a perfect time to read, with Halloween upon us.
However, please make sure you are of age to read this, as there is some disturbing content. Trigger warnings for rape, mental illness and suicide.
The Midnight Circus is a collection of short fiction, poetry, and commentary by Jane Yolen. Due out on 1st Oct 2020 from Tachyon, it's 256 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately
I enjoyed every single story in this collection; there were no weak ones. All of these have been published previously and date from the last several decades. Many of the stories are quite difficult to find and several were new to me in any form. One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging. It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting. Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away. I can only recall a few times where I've read a collection (or anthology) straight through from cover to cover. This one I did. I even re-read the stories which I had read before.
In fact, one story, The Snatchers, was one which I'd read in F&SF years ago and couldn't ever *find* again and when I would try to figure out where I'd read it (I knew it wasn't a figment of my fevered imagination, I can't imagine that creatively and well), it didn't ring any bells with anyone. This collection made me so happy to finally find the story again. It was, incidentally, even -better- than I remembered it being.
I'm not normally a huge reader of poetry but the included poems (they're interspersed with the story notes) were lyrical and beautifully written and engaging and so precisely put together that it was a pleasure.
A worthwhile collection for Yolen fans, readers of fantasy and speculative fiction, and folks who just appreciate well written fiction. She's a master writer with a prodigious oeuvre and these are some of her best dark stories.
Five stars. Gorgeous.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
The Midnight Circus is a decadent collection of immersive fairytales from a seasoned American author.
This collection was my introduction to Yolen’s work. As a new reader, I found the preface and the story notations to be a pseudo-conversation with the author. I learned so much from her in such a short time, and got a personalized insight into her thought processes and inspiration. There’s also kind words from authors Theodora Goss and Alethea Kontis before and after the stories.
There are 16 stories in total, some from years ago and others relatively new. The themes are wildly imaginative, dark and somber, and filled with whimsy notions of angels, mermaids, & winter people. Yolen draws subject matter from her Jewish heritage to powerful effect in Names and The Snatchers. The Weaver of Tomorrow is a heartbreakingly beautiful explanation to the “whys” of life and death. I could go on but there’s so much to make note of, as each story is a brilliant fairy tale with a rhyme and reason.
I can’t call this horror (despite the wonderfully eerie cover art), but rather short stories that are tinted different shades of dark. Some are clear-cut speculative fiction and others are certainly soul crushing. As a whole, this collection of a career’s worth of successes is a celebration of an American author that is often times called a modern Hans Christian Andersen. Frankly, I think Yolen reaches far beyond tragic girls and their macabre endings.
Jane Yolen’s newest collection of short stories comes at the PERFECT time for spooky season reading. I’m an absolute sucker for short stories and this was right up my alley. Ask me any day and I’ll tell you I’m not into thrillers, I’m too chicken for horror--this was the perfect balance of growing horror and sudden gasps. The stories are pithy, sharp and tight. By that I mean each story exists solely in its own universe and each character's voice is distinct--an important quality in a collection of short stories. Narrators range from a young child afraid of the wolves & bears under his bed & in his closet to an 1800’s vampire. My favorite story is Wildings, an imagination of future New York City and teenagers who “go wild” in its borders to blow off steam and lose control. It recalls Where the Wild Things Are and the New York City jogger case of the 90s. Every single story is good--there’s literally not a single dud. I also enjoyed the notes in the back, including original poetry and the origin of each story. There are several stories involving Jewish characters, Jewish history and second-generation Holocaust survivors. The final story, Names, broke my heart.
If you’re not a horror fan but you do enjoy the dark, the macabre, the well-written than you cannot miss The Midnight Circus. This is my first Yolen book but I guarantee that it is not my last.
Thank you Tachyon Publishing for giving me a free ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my personal and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
I have been a huge fan of Jane Yolen's work for decades and have thoroughly enjoyed these recent collections. I enjoy the blend of old favorites with new (to me) works. I've said it before and will say it again - Yolen is a treasure.
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC copy for my review.
A magical and enthralling collection of short stories. All of them are well written, fascinating and I loved them.
Great storytelling and style of writing.
It's the first book I read by this author and won't surely be the last.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
If you’ve ever read a fantasy short story, you’ve most likely heard of Jane Yolen. She’s the kind of fabled writer whose bibliography would take up an entire bookshelf and is much beloved by readers everywhere. I’m consistently amazed at how many stories Yolen is able to tell, each of them filled with something special. Of her most recent collection of stories, The Midnight Circus, I can say that her storytelling ability remains stronger than ever. It’s a wonderful collection of little tales that both enchant and teach valuable lessons with each conclusion.
As a lover of fairy tales, my favorite feature of the storytelling style is how much meaning can be crammed into so few words. It doesn’t take long to teach a valuable lesson when you’re able to capture the reader’s imagination. Yolen doesn’t mess around with drawn out plots and extra sentences. She dives right into the characters and somehow paints a vivid picture while leaving out a lot of the descriptions. This method gives the reader a solid starting point before allowing them to form their own mental pictures as the stories unfold. There’s nothing better than taking over a story with your own imagination, and to have it be so well crafted is an exciting bonus.
The stories themselves feature all manner of settings and characters, ranging from your classic fairy tale with larger than life creatures and myths, to common legends told during the 20th century. We’re not sequestered to fairy lands but carted around between modern day and magic. There were a couple that I got lost in, almost forgetting that I was reading fiction instead of fact. It’s a great collection if you’re looking for a vivid explosion of imagination for a few minutes at a time.
My favorite story was the first in the collection, ‘The Weaver of Tomorrow.’ I loved this little story about a young woman who wants to know everything there is to know. It’s a great start to a book of fairy tales, charting the course for grandiose settings and fantastical beings that defy reality. It’s a journey teetering between excitement, wonder, and sorrow, all fit within a few pages.
Overall, I’m as impressed with The Midnight Circus as I expected to be. Seeing a writer continue to perfect their form is always exciting, and with Yolen, you know you’ll be thrust into worlds known and unknown, leaving the pages a little wiser and a bit further removed from the humdrum happenings of real life.
ohhhh man do i love me a circus book, though! This was fantastic and ethereal and fun and beautiful and wonderful and thank you so much for this glorious book! it was amazing and you should pick it up right now!!
The introduction to this short story anthology is beautifully done. Jane Yolen shares a couple personal insights into this set of stories and directs everyone to take a look at the related poems (which make up the last half of this book) related to the stories themselves. Yolen truly is an endearing and lasting female SF/F author of her generation.
Story 1 - The Weaver of Tomorrow
Lovely little reminder that what you think you want may not be what you really crave. Love the use of time passing here to show the two inevitable pieces of life, birth and death.
Story 2 - The White Seal Maid
This story features a man and a selkie. It feels very similar to many stories I’ve read before, except it’s missing something. Perhaps it’s the desire to have an obvious moral at the end, or that our man is very one-dimensional, or that we never understand why the selkie chose to do what she does. Either way it wasn’t satisfying for me.
Story 3 - The Snatchers
Meh. Just okay.
Story 4 - Wilding
This is such a cool concept and the use of Central Park is just brilliant. I want so much more! It reads like the tease you'd send to a publisher to try and get them to endorse a full story being written. So very unsatisfying in length and content but really cool concept.
Story 5 - Requiem Antarctica
First, I want to sincerely thank Yolen for writing this. I did not know the history of the race to the South Pole. As I read this, and realized it is an alternate history, I immediately went and read pages on the events. If you read the Wikipedia page that will be enough to realize Yolen did a brilliant job of combining fact with fiction.
This is a jewel of a story. It's creative, briliant, contextually relevant, and an interesting way to learn about history. Absolutely amazing!
Story 6 - Night Wolves
I wish I’d read this story as a child or teen. Then perhaps I’d be a little less intimidated by the dark.
A clever manifestation of a certain kind of loss and grief. Very well done
Story 7 - The House of Seven Angels
Alternate origin story for Moses during his youth. Meh.
Story 8 - Great Grey
This one is creepy... like serial killer creepy but totally not that. Kind of clever. Wasn't perfect but a very solid read.
Story 9 - Little Red
I dunno what it is about little red riding hood but I can’t get tired of retelling or spins on her story. Wonderful rendition with a twist.
Story 10 - Winter’s King
As someone who lives in a cold place (and hates the heat; give me -30C over +30C any day of the week or year) this had a nice dose of melancholy for me.
Story 11 - Inscription
Interesting method of story telling used.
Story 12 - Dog Boy Remembers
Where’s the rest of the story?! This feels like a preview to a larger novel. Really interesting and well done but I want sooo much more. Does dog boy ever succeed in his desired revenge, what is the symbolism of the cap, and so much more. This should definitely be a full book to explore all the interesting nuances dog boy has."
Story 13 - The Fisherman’s Wife
Love the description of the mermaid as alien (not beautiful) and the use of communication (or lack thereof). A wonderful little tale.
Story 14 - Become a Warrior
A story about how women can become as strong and cunning as men. Although ultimately a revenge story which I often struggle with. Revenge feels so petty to me most times.
Story 15 - An Infestation of Angels
The Gipt in this story must be Hutts (Star Wars) as that was immediately what I imagined them as (lol). Clever little trick to make one think that a deity is watching over and not just biology at work.
Story 16 - Names
I didn’t really get this one to be honest...
Definitely some real gems in here. I'm giving it five stars overall if only because the Antartica story and Dog boy are easily shining stars that make this whole anthology worth reading. None of these are poorly written (It's Yolen and she keeps her high standard in place) or so bad that I didn't want to finish the story. Given how difficult it can be to find good, consistent anthologies this one is easily a step above most.
Yolen is an absolute champion of the writing world and each year that goes by, as I get older and so does she, I worry about the day she won’t be here anymore. With over 350+ stories out there published you’d think there is enough of Yolen in the word; but I do not. Please keep it coming!
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
To say that Jane Yolen is a legend is putting it lightly. Ms. Yolen has won just about every Science Fiction award available, and has such a prolific body of work that it is almost too daunting.
When I was given the opportunity to preview The Midnight Circus, I jumped at it. Made largely of previously published short stories along with the notes and poems that inspired each of the sixteen stories, The Midnight Circus is a collection of pure magic. The ease with which Ms. Yolen weaves such masterful tales and builds such amazing worlds is nigh sickening. Be it a twisted retelling of the Red Riding Hood tale, or stories of mermaids and wild princesses, Ms. Yolen transitions and build upon each short story in a way that captures the full attention of the reader and leaves them wanting just a bit more.
The most impressive thing to me, however, was he wide variety of cultures represented in this anthology. Everything from a retelling of the Exodus story to Scottish folklore to stories about Russian Jews is represented here. Each and every one with a unique character and character stance authentic to their settings.
Jane Yolen truly is a Queen of storytelling.
A gorgeous collection of short stories, tied by an undercurrent of darkness. I’ve read a lot of Yolen’s works and she never ceases to surprise and delight.
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.
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).
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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