The Troupe
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The Troupe

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  566 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Vaudeville: mad, mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferocious showmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions.

But sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville for one reason only: to find the man he suspects to be his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. Yet as he chases down his father’s troupe, he begins to understand that thei...more
Kindle Edition, 500 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Orbit (first published October 1st 2011)
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Seak (Bryce L.)
The Troupe is my first book by Robert Jackson Bennett, but surely not the last. When the highly favorable reviews started coming out earlier this year, I was very intrigued and now that I've read it, I can't really think of a better reading choice I've made this year. The only question I have now is, "How can there only be 188 ratings of this book on Goodreads?" :D

George is making a name for himself as a pianist in Vaudeville (popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries), but what he...more

4.5 stars

The Troupe is a grand gem of a novel, standing alone nicely and with gusto. As Silenus states, “You’re wrong, kid. I am just a performer. I’m just putting on a show you haven’t seen before.”
This novel also puts on a show that has not been done before within fantasy literature - not that there haven't been similar books, but there hasn't been this book.

Originality is a major selling point of fantasy. For every strong, original work of fiction such as The Lord of the Rings, Alice in Won...more
The book first came to my atention for its circus connection - a favorite theme of mine. Then I saw it received a lot of glowing reviews from people I follow. Technically, the story is about vaudeville not circus, a related form of showbusiness that knew its greatest popularity at the turn of the 20th century, with artists touring small venues all across America, before the magic of the silver screen replaced it in popularity. I believe Chaplin is the greatest example of a performer starti...more
Linda Robinson
Admiration for writers who take on the awesome task of explaining the great unvarnished mystery of life runs deep in my reading soul. Life has two departments, according to Robert Heinlein. The Practical Joke Department and The Fairy Godmother Department. That is all. Into the practical joke department are stuffed subdepartments, since life is a bureaucracy set up by a government we never see and that has lost the ability to pay attention to much of anything. Pain, confusion, yearning, horror, s...more
A wonderful fantasy tale from Bennett, who once again proves how underrated a writer he truly is. This story of a traveling vaudeville troupe with a secret mission to save the world from dark forces grabs you from the very first page and never lets go. The characters have such life to them you feel like you are in their world. The plot moves along, never boring, and written with a style and flair that works perfectly with the events unfolding around us. If you haven't read Bennett before, it's t...more
George braved the world to search for his father
Though of money or an address he had neither.
But despite his youth his courage he did gather,
In this mission he was determined not to falter.

Enormous skill he did, however, possess,
Innate piano-playing talent was his largesse.
To Vaudeville he went off to find success --
That was George's big plan, more or less.

Alas, his father dear he did indeed find
But he turned out quite mean rather than kind.
He'd have fled at that moment if he'd had half a mind

Up to this point I`ve read two books by Robert Jackson Bennett, and based on those as well as the blurbs for the two others, (one forthcoming) and I would classify him in the well known and popular genre Metaphorical Mythology.

I didn`t like everything about The Troupe, (I could have done without the whole Four Shepherds subplot) but the things I did like absolutely blew me away. It`s a book that confronts the darkness that is always around us and we choose to ignore. The darkness is hard to expl...more
This book is amazing and beautiful.

A young man seeks out a traveling troupe of vaudevillians in search of his father, and discovers a world under and within the world he thought he knew. A secret history, a magic song, the story of Creation, evil monsters bent on erasing existence itself, and characters so flawed and wondrous.

This is one of those books that causes "I was sad that it ended" to be an actual feeling of a passionate reader.

Do yourself a favor, and read this wonderful novel. It might...more
A fun, vibrant novel with a few flaws. The characters are fabulous and well drawn, and their interactions and relationships are what primarily had me turning the pages. The plot is good, if a bit meandering around the middle, but the aforesaid character interactions make up for that. The concept is fine - it's nothing tremendously new, but it works for this standalone book and is refreshingly simple compared to lots of fantastical set-ups in the genre. I had a few quibbles with the internal cons...more
Lee Foust
A novel for the information age. Although the plot, characters, and the appropriately ineffable mysteries of the supernatural all seem more or less in place here, I have never in my life experienced a more bland and workmanlike prose style. It's like looking at a black and white reproduction of a Van Gogh. If only a sportswriter had written this. Don't know if I'll make it through.

Didn't, in fact, make it through--around 110 pages it started getting sillier and, well, what with the somnambulisti...more
Tudor Ciocarlie
This is by far the best horror book I've read in the last couple of years. What shines in it are the characters: the bad ones are absolutely terrifying in their darkness and weirdness, the good ones are heartbreaking in their suffering and the grey one are fascinating in their convoluted morality and their need for redemption. This is the american response to Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and its almost as good as Susanna Clarke's novel.
What a truly fantastic story this was. Hop on over to Writing Ex Libris to see why I gave The Troupe 5 out of 5 something or others and why this should be one not to miss!
Holy macaroni I'm FINALLY DONE!!!!!!!! WORST and most boring book I've ever read. Didn't get good until the last 75 pages.
Joel Pearson
The Troupe was kind of a weird 3-part book for me - it reminded me a bit of The Way Of Kings, in that it starts very slow, easing into the world at hand. Through about the first 150 pages, I honesty was unsure how I felt about the book - it didn't immediately grab me, didn't stun me with prose, story or characters right out of the gate. Definitely was a slow burn, but once it got going, it went hard until the end.

The book follows George, a young, cocksure vaudeville pianist who is trying to lat...more
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)
You may also read my review here:

At 16, George Carole was raised by his grandmother, has never known his mother or father, and has been traveling with a vaudeville troupe, playing piano rather wonderfully. He has a good idea of who his father might be, and has been trying to catch up with the Silenus troupe, if only to catch a glimpse of the man that could possibly be his dad. He finally manages to catch up with them and catch a performance. He’s enchante...more
Rich Rosell
I picked this one at the library without any pre-existing knowledge of the book or the author. A frontcover blurb comparing Bennett to "Stephen King and John Steinbeck" caught me eye and it wasn't until later that I realized the praise was for another book of his, and not The Troupe.

I'm all about creepy vaudeville/sideshow stories, and The Troupe is Bennett dipping full-force into a book lousy with creepy vaudeville and headlong into the realm of dark magic and fantasy. Maybe the story goes on...more
c.o.lleen ± (... never stop fighting) ±

I'm not quite sure what I expected this book to be like when I picked it up - maybe something a bit like The Night Circus, but with Vaudeville instead. But, really, the Vaudeville aspect is sort of a mask for the deeper story which, at its core, is about the power of Creation versus the forces of Destruction.

I have to admit that, for most of the book, I figured I was going to rate it 3-stars. I was interested enough in these strange people that comprise the Troupe, but none of them really re...more
Oof. What an absolutely amazing, magical book. I'm deeply enjoying reading Bennett's bibliography in order of publication, because he's honed and improved his style so much with each one. The Troupe is, so far, my favourite of the lot -- but just give me some time, and perhaps American Elsewhere will make me change my mind.

This one, though: if you like exploring magical realism (that's what this is, right? god, I never know with genres), vaudeville, showboating stagemasters and gruff badasses an...more
R.B. Harkess
This may get echoed on my blog feed, so apologies if you have already read it.

In a nutshell, The Troupe is about a young man, George, with a preternatural ability on the piano, who gets into a vaudeville theater so as he can spot when a certain troupe comes through; the one run by his father.

Only they aren't an ordinary troupe of performers. They sing, and seek out, fragments of the First Song, the song sung by the Creator to bring forth the universe. They are chased by the Wolves, who seek to d...more
Young George Carole is a very talented pianist who leaves his carnival when the Troupe led by the enigmatic Heironomous “Harry” Silenus is near. He hopes to join the fabled vaudeville Troupe since his grandmother has led him to believe Harry is his father, whom he never met. When George arrives at the Troupe, he manages to get a position in the traveling vaudevillian entertainers and signs on for more than he imagined.

Circuses, carnivals and traveling entertainers have been popular elements of...more
Damian Trasler
I probably won't make it to the end of this book. Three nights in a row I have chosen to pick up something else.

The characters are good, the setting is original but there is a grimness to the world created that I have come to recognise. In the way that I do, I watched the downward flow of the characters' experience and flipped to the end of the book. I won't include any spoilers, but what I read doesn't make me want to continue working at the book.

I know a lot of people will cry "foul" at that,...more
Nate Hodges
So much potential, both as a good mystery and as a fantasy novel, but falls tragically flat in every way. The characters aren't developed well and half the time I was rolling my eyes because George is a total dummy. Even when faced over and over with magical situations he still seems incapable of believing its actually happening. If you played a drinking game while reading and drank every time George asks, "what?!" You would experience a liver failure by the end of the book. Written like a young...more
Jacob Wright
The Troupe is about a boy (George) who goes of in search of his father. All he knows is that he's part of a mysterious vaudeville troupe who nobody can remember what happened in the performance when they go to see them. Gorge is a pianist in a vaudeville troupe, when he hears the troupe that he suspects his father is playing in a nearby town, he leaves and goes to find it. George joins his fathers mysterious troupe, where slowly more is revealed about the purpose of the troupe and what they do....more
I absolutely loved The Troupe and I devoured every word of it. The Troupe was a breath of fresh air. It charmed me from the first page. In this book you’ll find shocking depth, fantastic writing, loveable characters and even a bit of education. While it’s nearly impossible for me to say if this would be classified more as fantasy or horror, that’s also a great appeal. Who wants the same-old-same-old when you can have a story that blazes its own trail and will stick with you long after you finis...more
This bloke tells a damn good story damn well. While this hasn't the punch or fright of his previous works, there's enough balance between extremely idiosyncratic world-building and an almost Elmore-Leonard-meets-Joe-R-Lansdale-meets-Carnivale sort of character set to keep it ticking over on a number of gratifyingly unsettling levels. A literate, complex, interesting, gruesome, disturbing, and ultimately highly involving modern fairytale. No cop-outs, no shortcuts, no sappy-happy... Absolutely wo...more
Bittersweet perfection. I loved it. George is a young man who has gone in search of his father, whom he never met. What he finds is not at all what he expects. Something of a fantasy, something of a mystery, and a whole lot of coming of age/finding of self. The last few chapters had me bawling my eyes out and marveling at Bennett's insight into the parent/child bond. I will read this again to savor the language and pick up on things I might have missed along the way. Masterful storytelling...
Cover to Cover Books
Ho-hum. Nearly stopped reading several times, and probably should have. So many interesting side plots in this book, never explored. And for all the hype of the vaudeville setting, really not much vaudeville. Here it is, folks, the creation myth retold! Complete with Adam's rib and a few marionettes.

I apologize to those of you to whom I recommended we try this book.

This was an awful lot like reading someone's fever dream, and about as coherent.
Nov 05, 2012 Lyssa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lyssa by: Mike
Shelves: horror, fantasy
I found The Troupe to be an epic tale of both fantasy and horror. However, the book is very layered and doesn't easily fit into either genre. The characters are so raw and real; their voices come alive in your mind. We follow the main character, George, on a strange and compelling journey into a dying world. Read if you dare; it's pretty creepy and strange.
The tell and not show beginning set up a prodigy on piano. The author bypasses 16year-old marvel for the tedious dialogue of sage old lady to impatient youth. That which you want most and perhaps fears will...
Never finished chapter one.
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Robert Jackson Bennett's 2010 debut Mr. Shivers won the Shirley Jackson award as well as the Sydney J Bounds Newcomer Award. His second novel, The Company Man, is currently nominated for a Philip K. Dick Award as well as an Edgar Award. His third novel, The Troupe, arrives in stores on the 21st of February.

He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett. Sin...more
More about Robert Jackson Bennett...
American Elsewhere Mr. Shivers The Company Man City of Stairs To Be Read Upon Your Waking

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“Die. Do you think I will? I suppose I must...I exist now, and everything that exists must end, one day. I wonder how I will die, and what it will be like. It will be most interesting, don't you think? [...] Yes. Yes, I think it will," said the wolf. "I look forward to it. On the whole, I think it is a very strange and terrifying thing, to exist. I really don't understand how you do it. Tell me - how do you deal with the fear?

"The fear?" asked George.

"Yes. That fear that comes from the feeling that there is you, and then there is...everything else. That you are trapped inside of yourself, a tiny dot insignificant in the face of every everything that could ever be. How do you manage that?"

George considered how to answer. "I...guess we just never think about it."

"Never think about it!" cried the wolf. "How can you not think about it when it confronts you at every moment? You are lost amid a wide, dark sea, with no shores in sight, and you all so rarely panic! Some days I can barely function, so how on earth can you never think about it?"

"Well, I...suppose we distract ourselves," said George.

"But with what?".

"I don't know. With all kinds of things.”
“What I'm going to do up here, kid, is tell you a story. Like all stories, it's an attempt to make sense of something larger than itself. And, like most stories, it fails, to a certain degree. It's a gloss, a rendition, so it's not exact. But it'll do.
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