Monday, 13 February 2012

The Scotsman Abroad | Telling The Troupe

As above, so below... my review of The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett - which we chatted about on The Speculative Scotsman here - is live as we speak on the almighty Tor.com. Here's a snippet from it:

"Riding the crest of a weird wave of speculative and indeed superlative circus stories – with The Night Circus, Cyber-Circus and Genevieve Valentine’s marvellous Mechanique bringing up the esteemed rear – The Troupe is a tall and ineffably tender tale about nothing less than 'the warp and weft of the web' of the world."

"It concerns an elusive company of vaudeville players with a mythical mission, ultimately as hellish as it is holy, and a newcomer in their midst: George by name, and George by nature, because next to the motley lot he falls in with, George seems intolerably ordinary. A teenage vaudeville virgin from a broken home, George has spent the past several months playing pitch-perfect piano for a pittance at Otterman’s, in the unlikely event that the mysterious Silenus Troupe he has become obsessed by break with tradition, and stop off at his tawdry theater a second time. If and when that happens, George hopes for an introduction, but in truth his dreams are of an invitation: to tour the world with them, and finally befriend his father... because he is none other than Heironomo Silenus’ son."


Keep reading and you'll realise that I had a few problems with The Troupe - foremostly a main character with no agency for approximately half of the whole - but I still came away from the thing feeling optimistic, and the end is quite simply incredible; a destination well worth the journey's bumpier bits.

And in fairness I seem to be the only reviewer with any reservations about it. Robert has been counting down the reviews as and when they've come in on his blog, and together they make for a very impressive presentation.


In short: if Mr. Shivers did it for you, The Troupe should too. It's different, but similar in its interest in the mythic, and three books in (because I finally read The Company Man in readiness for this review) I've found that Robert Jackson Bennett is never better than when he's myth-making. 

And when he's on... oh lord!

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