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The Troupe

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,885 ratings  ·  267 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
Paperback, 512 pages
Published February 21st 2012 by Orbit
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  1,885 ratings  ·  267 reviews

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You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

What Im going to do up here, kid, is tell you a story. Like all stories, its an attempt to make sense of something larger than itself. And, like most stories, it fails, to a certain degree. Its a gloss, a rendition, so its not exact. But itll do.

Im going to see Paranormal Cirque this weekend and am insanely excited. In anticipation, I picked up The Troupe. While not about a circus, it is about a vaudevillian troupe, which is similar in feel.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of coming-of-age
Recommended to carol. by: sadly, me

Alas! I come to this book through backtracking through Bennetts bibliography, first starting with City of Stairs and following with American Elsewhere. I mostly fell in love with his writing and sense of place, and while The Troupe has ingredients of those, it lacks the nuances of the other two as well as the sheer inventiveness of Stairs.

Clearly not destined to be my favorite of his works, I kept hearing echoes of the young adult classic, A Wrinkle in Time, the ballad of Tam Lin and-hush, now-
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
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
Jonathan Terrington

4.5 stars

The Troupe is a grand gem of a novel, standing alone nicely and with gusto. As Silenus states, Youre wrong, kid. I am just a performer. Im just putting on a show you havent 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
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-shelf
Despite the sometimes slow feel of the start of this book, full of a mysterious Vaudevillian performance, a found (formerly missing) dad, and some dark, Cthuhlu-like creatures coming after the Troupe, (none of which SOUNDS particularly slow), this novel eventually picks up the pace and develops into some truly awesome, even epic, proportions.

I don't know what I was meant to expect when I read this, but what I got was NOT it. Traveling around, performing a bit here and there, keeping one step
The Shayne-Train
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jun 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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 ...more
After being blown away by City of Stairs (, I eagerly hunted down more books my Mr. Robert Jackson Bennett: the first of his other works to fall in my hands was The Troupe, which I cracked open happily, as anything vaudeville or circus themed makes me totally giddy.

While the story is seen through the eyes of young piano prodigy George Carole, The Troupe is more the story of Heironomo Silenus, a strange man who leads his unusual company of vaudevillians
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ambitious and detailed, very atmospheric and really quite strange! The pace is not slow but I found it a slow read.
This is the second book I read from Jackson Bennett and I realize that everything this writer touches turns to gold.

I hadn`t big expectations from this book because the synopsis wasn`t a big deal.

But I couldn`t be more wrong about this. And what a book has been!

The ending wasn`t so satisfying but I have closed my eyes because until then the whole thing works like a charm.

If I look at the characters I could conclude that the book resembles a little with American Gods by Neil Gaiman but it`s like
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Linda Robinson
Feb 25, 2012 rated it liked it
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, ...more
Dreamy-quiet, at times creepy, and also magical, it is a quest to find the rhythms and melody of creation. This book can be read as an 'ode to Art', and RJB with the delicate touch of old fairytales in his narrative conjures a story that is multilayered with intentions, and fluctuates at each turn with its varied set of characters. It is like one symphony of Bach or Mozart that lingers long after the music has faded into memory. At some places it reminded me of The Night Circus with its subtle ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 wouldve liked, the underlying imagination is a 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. Rather, they
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...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. Hes
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Lee Foust
Dec 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Terri Wino
Hmmm. I'm not quite sure what to say about this book. Part supernatural, part fantasy, a little horror, and a depth and sort of message I never expected going into it.
Yes, it's the story of a troupe of performers and the story of a boy trying to forge a relationship with his father, but I was surprised at more than one point in the story when things were not at all as they seemed.
I did feel the story dragged a little too much and could have been shorter without changing the impact of the tale.
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.
Jun 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Holy macaroni I'm FINALLY DONE!!!!!!!! WORST and most boring book I've ever read. Didn't get good until the last 75 pages.
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fantastic read, great atmosphere and plot. Geek Love meets The Library at Mount Char, two favorites of mine. Highly recommend if horror and fantasy are your thing.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Teilhard de Chardin

Robert Jackson Bennett's books always surprise me. As of this review I've read his entire oeuvre, minus City of Blades, which I intend to get to soon. What strikes me is how different all these books are in setting and development; despite coming from the same author, there isn't the kind of overlap in character types and plot that can become tiresome. Yet at the same time, by the third installment in RJB's
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dont usually write reviews, mainly because Im 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 the
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy, 2016
I am in awe at how creative this was, but also the immense impression is has left on me. It tells an amazing tale that is relatable to the life questions we constantly pose, with characters that are neither perfect nor likable.

It was definitely different to what I expected it to be but I love the twists and turns, and the final outcome of the story.

There are life lessons to take out of this read and I am so glad I got around to finishing it!

Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method)
Really liked the beginning and the end of this. The middle was a little weak for me. and the wolves just weren't very menacing to me. But the fairies were dang scary, for sure. Overall, I liked it, but I wasn't head over heels for it.
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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. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 ...more

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“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.
“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.”
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