Wednesday, 11 November 2020



Title: The Midnight Circus
Author: Jane Yolen
Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: 1st October 2020

BLURB from Goodreads
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.


It was the cover that initially attracted me to this book, the bold cover being dominated by a circus big top and decorate similar to what a circus brochure front would be like. I’m probably giving away my age mentioning Circus programs etc but that’s what it reminded me of.  

I enjoy a good collection of short stories, be they by the same author or in an anthology form by an array of authors. These sort of books, are great to read in a lunch/coffee break or on a journey.

This book begins with an introduction to The Midnight Circus by Theodora Goss saying Jane Yolen weaves beauty and darkness, reality and the fantastic, imagination and the ordinary, as only she can. Theodora says - Jane knows more about fairy tales and fantasy than most professors in the field. She is formidably intelligent and articulate, unafraid to challenge viewpoints that are not historically sound or backed up by solid evidence. She goes on to compare Jane Yolen to Hans Christian Anderson, though saying that for her a Jane Yolen story is fundamentally different from one of Andersen’s tales in two ways.  First, Jane is never sanctimonious. With characters that are sometimes good, sometimes bad, sometimes broken, but always treated as people, not just to deliver a message. And secondly, she informs Jane Yolen’s stories contain a strong dose of common sense and pragmatism.

After that fantastic introduction expectations were high. I was expecting short stories about the wonderful circus world and those that perform there. Perhaps something like Rachel Vincent’s Menageries series but short individual tales. This was not the case but I ploughed on with reading the book, enjoying some of the stories such as The Weaver Of Tomorrow and The White Seal Maid, though I thought I had somehow read these stories before somewhere else, something felt really familiar about them.

My two favourite short stories were Wilding and The Snatchers. The Snatchers is actually about the Holocaust and that awful time in history. I found it cleverly written and an interesting read. To be honest if I had to choose just one favourite from the book it would have to be The Snatchers. The stories I did read were scary, aesop fable-esque type tales so I guess that makes the book a good "Halloween" or "scary" read!

I did honestly struggle to keep on the reading momentum for this book, I felt it didn’t pull me in and hold my interest. I did try putting the book to one side and starting something else then coming back to it but still found it a struggle. In the end I had to abandon the book, giving it a Did Not Finish label and leaving the book. It’s rare I don’t finish a book, but sadly I just couldn’t continue to the end with this one.

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