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The Troupe

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,004 ratings  ·  178 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
Kindle Edition, 500 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Orbit (first published October 1st 2011)
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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

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
The Troupe is a bold imaginative and gripping adventure, part magical realism, part horror, part Southern gothic. At its heart, the novel is George's coming of age story -- George abandons his vaudeville group to join a troupe led by Heironomo "Harry" Silenus, whom he believes to be his father. Most, but not all of the characters are interesting and complex: a Persian princess who sings and dances, a puppeteer whose puppets appear to speak and move on their own, a strongwoman whose great strengt ...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
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
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
Ok, Shayne, you were right.
I really liked this book.

Yes, there were entire passages that I could have red-penned to death because they were ridiculous and made me roll my eyes and sigh with irritation but those were few and far between.

I think this is what I wanted Winter's Tale to be. Actually, I know this is what I wanted that book to be.

It's a whimsical tale about the world succumbing to darkness and those who are tasked with keeping said darkness at bay. And failing. For reasons.

There's myth
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
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 Carole is 16, a talented pianist, and kind of full of himself, despite all evidence to the contrary. He's also, in the Year of Our Lord 1910 (plus or minus, if I'm correct in my math) left home to play piano for a vaudeville show, which he promptly leaves to go chasing after another troupe led by one Heironomo Silenus whom George understands to be his father. George sees the show (saddest & creepiest ventriloquist ever! strangely detached strong woman! exotic dancer! and ... that four ...more
I don’t usually write reviews, mainly because I’m not very good at doing so, but I just had to explain to those oblivious to Robert Jackson Bennett as to why they should read his work.
After finishing Bennett's most recent book, The City of Stairs, and being astounded by his haunting prose and captivating world, I told myself that I would read some of his earlier works to see if I could receive the same experience I did with City of Stairs. COS was by far, the best book of 2014 and I went into t

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
Sajūtu līmenī es Trupu varētu raksturot šādi - ja Nīls Geimens būtu uzrakstījis Bezgalīgo stāstu.
Līdz piecām zvaigznēm nedaudz pietrūkst, jo 1) galvenajam varonim ir 16 gadi un tāpēc viņam vismaz grāmatas sākumā ir jādara daudz visādas muļķības, kā jau pieaugšanas stāstā, kas šajā gadījumā man pārāk pie sirds negāja, un 2) grāmatā ir atsevišķas epizodes, kas ir no neticamo sakritību plauktiņa, bet to nav daudz un kopējo iespaidu tas pārāk nebojā.
Jau atkal autoram izdevās noslēpt no manis vēl vie
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
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Though the overlying prose is clean and efficient, if not as beautiful or sharp as I would’ve liked, the underlying imagination is a sort of death-trap rollercoaster, a series of imaginative heights not fully connected with the rails of plot and theme.

Case in point: Professor Tyburn, a man of mechanism and wit, the opening act for the vaudeville troop around which this book is centered. He is a puppeteer, yet his puppets need no strings to operate. Rat
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.
(4.5 of 5 stars)

It's a small personal tradition: Every year, as Texas weather moves from Blast Furnace to Surprisingly Fabulous Autumn (or, Hooray! Seasons Other Than Summer Exist After All!), I try to read something about circuses, or at least about magic performances. For a long time I'd just keep rereading Ray Bradbury, who does unsettling and atmospheric like no one else; I experimented with some other contenders over the years, but never quite found anything to match the heights of works li
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.
John Boettcher
Good, but not as good as Bennett's other books.

I really like Bennett for all of his down to earth quirkiness, and maybe had a bit too high expectations for this book, and just coming off American Elsewhere. Still this book is a solid 4 stars and worth a read.

Is it Southern Gothic? ehhhhhhh......maybe not THAT southern gothic. Let's say upper midwest slightly brooding and dark, shall we?

That could have been a matter of contention as well, looking for some solid Southern Gothic books and this s
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
Charles Dee Mitchell
George Carole is a sixteen-year-old boy searching for a father he has never known. He suspects that he is one Heironomo Silenus, leader of a vaudeville troupe. George's only clue is that he once saw his grandmother spit on a playbill advertising a Silenus performance. When George catches up with SIlenus, their first encounter sets the tone for the rest of Bennett't enjoyable and very strange third novel. George watches the act and sees that during the final musical performance, he is the only au ...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
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
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

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
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
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
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
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,
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Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. His fifth novel, City of Stairs, is in stores now.

He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @ro
More about Robert Jackson Bennett...
City of Stairs American Elsewhere Mr. Shivers The Company Man 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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