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The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Travelling Circus

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Maximillian Bacchus is the ringmaster, ruler, guide and owner of what he considers the greatest show in the world. Traveling with a Crocodile named Malachi, a trapeze girl named Ophelia, a strong man they call Hero, which is short for Hieronymus a clown named Domingo de Ybarrondo, who paints in a wagon pulled by a giant Ibis bird, the troupe wanders from adventure to adven ...more
Hardcover, 120 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Bad Moon Books (first published 2009)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  435 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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The ringmaster of the circus, Mr. Maximilian Bacchus, decides the circus needs to go to Xanadu and attend the court of Kublai Khan. The overall story is made up of the adventures of his troupe along the way.

The first story is about the wedding of Indigo Murphy, a bird handler, to the Duke Lorenzo de Medici. It sets up the different characters in the book and also sees a new troupe member, Angelo, join the ranks. Overall this wasn't the best story and I was worried that every story was going
To say this book is atypical for Barker is an understatement, but it is still very good, and probably my favorite of his works.
To begin with, this is a collection of four short stories, linked by the titular circus. The circus heads to Coleridge's Cathay, to entertain "the Khan known as Kublai," and the stories detail their adventures along the way. These are tall tales, with talking animals, people with strange gifts, and mythical creatures, and are much gentler than any of Barker's work I've r
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I just finished listening to the audio book version of this. I've never listened to an audio book before but overall, it was okay.

These stories were written by Clive when he just started writing, and was very young. Do not expect to find any horror in this book.

The stories were quite enjoyable, and the characters very likeable. Especially Malaki the crocodile.

It's a very short read/listen of just over 2 hours, and I know the physical copy has just over 100 pages.

If you are a Clive Barker fan,
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am a massive fan of Clive Barker and reading ‘The Adventures of Maximillian Bacchus & His Travelling Circus’ was like catching up with an old friend, I love his style of writing, the possibilities that anything and everything can happen within his universe.

All of the characters are wonderfully written, glorious in fact, my favourite character was Malachi the crocodile, I loved his stories, he was quite the traveller and I loved the fact he was not what you expected a crocodile to be. All of th
Pardis Ahmadi
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
I love Clive Barker a lot. I liked his imaginations for this short stories. But not as much as i loved his other books like Tortured Souls and Hellbound Heart.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: clive-barker
Book Reaction:
Rating: 2.5 Stars - far from hate but not quite a like
Mark R.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
"The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus" is a short children's novel written by Clive Barker at around eighteen years of age. The writing is quite remarkable for someone so young, and reading this lightweight, whimsical tale, it isn't difficult to see this as the beginning of what would prove to be a major talent.

Max Bacchus and his circus travel through a strange country, delivering their entertainments to those who ask for them, and meeting various bizarre characters. The plot is simple, a
Elle Lorre
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I love Clive Barker for his horror, but reading this novellette written by a seventeen-year-old Barker I was enchanted by his ability to tell a fantasy story like a folk tale. It was strange, ethereal, and lyrical, a modern-day Grimm fairy story that seemed real enough to me that I was enchanted from the moment I picked up the book.

A ringmaster, a talking crocodile, a boy with sunlight in his eyes: So many stories rely on explanations, but in Mr. Maximillian Bacchus you don't need explanations -
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: shorts, kindle, 2013
This is a collection of four short stories which, connected, tell a larger narrative. It's a fairy tale feel, full of improbabilities told with a reassuring voice. I would read more of these characters, especially if they included that other traveling show...what was the name of it again? Regardless, I wasn't ready to be done with this cast of characters.

Favorite quote from this one? "Reality is a schizophrenic, unstable target. It exists only in the moment; anything after that is suspect."
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Another book I bought for the kindle that took me forever to finish. It's ornately written, but couldn't hold my interest, even though I love circuses, fairy tales, and Clive Barker short stories. It is poetical enough to be glittery and cold but not original enough to be compelling.
Ryan Pascall
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a real hard one for me as a lifelong fan of Clive Barker but I came into this hoping for another Imajica or Weaveworld, albeit condensed but instead I felt like I as listening to Neil Gaiman's retelling of Roger Rabbit.
The stories I feel are very much a product of their time and maybe I'm being unduly critical but I just felt the stories to be more of a Aesop's Fables than a work of the titanic mind that created Weaveworld or the dark one that gave us Cabal.
Coupled this with a narrator w
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
harkening back to when this was written, it isn't bad... hard to believe the guy who wrote 'The Books of Blood' and 'Imajica' started so lightly... honestly, the afterword is the best part of this book... we need fantasy to be different from reality in more ways than ever... so kudos for a great early career story set from Mr. Barker, and i'm glad his style hasn't changed, and that imaginative fantasy keeps getting better...
Jason Bergman
This tiny book, a collection of some of Clive Barker's earliest stories, is...fine, I guess? The stories are mildly amusing, and kind of clever. They're not great, but as some of his earliest works, I guess they show the promise of genius to come. That does make it hard to recommend for any but the most avid Barker fans.
John Watt
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fantasy
A fantastical adventure where anyone who loves fantasy or the circus will thoroughly enjoy. There is an air of mystery about several of the characters and all are quite interesting. An awesome short novel which is a quick and easy read. It will keep the reader enthralled.
Emy M.
May 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting one and at times I got swept up in the magical and mysterious world of Maximillian Bacchus and his quirky characters but at other times I was just plain confused. I understand what the author was going for but in my opinion the writing fell flat and the constant scene and character change is far too disorientating. Perhaps if the story had been a little longer and more detailed it would have captured my attention more... Alas, this was not one of those books which made my ...more
May 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, fantasy
I was excited to find this from the library,

I've been waiting for The Scarlet Gospels for years now, and as I wait, Barker releases things here and there. The obnoxious Mr. B. Gone, the latest Abarat, and this book, which almost flew under the radar.

This book is a short novel of sorts that Barker wrote at a rather young age, before his books of blood.

It's hard to describe. It's an odd, silly little book. It almost reads like a fable or fairy tale, but instead accounts for the adventures of an am
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A magical collection of tales featuring Maximillian Bacchus and his traveling circus (comprised of Malachi the talking crocodile, Ophelia the trapeze girl, Hero (Hieronymus) the strong man, Domingo de Ybarrondo the clown, Bathsheba the "Orang-outang" and Angelo the thief with magic eyes.) They travel in a caravan drawn by an Ibis bird named Thoth. On their way to Xanadu -- to perform for the Kahn -- the group's travel is fraught with danger as they outwit trolls, Bentham and his frightful Theatr ...more
Steve Bouchard
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
I relaly like Barker's books. I loved "The Thief of Always" so was thirlled to come across this work, which appeared to be another Barker contribution to YA fare. But in the end I was a little confused and disappointed by this.

Don't get me wrong, there is a collection of great characters here, and the stories themselves are wonderful fantastic works. Well worth the read.

But I just get the feeling that the idea behind this was bigger, and Barker never bothered to realize the full potential of thi
Nostalgia Reader
Simply amazeballs. The perfect amount of matter-of-fact-surrealism and adventure. Circus books either need to be delightfully creepy or magically surreal and this is certainly the later. Since this is a kids book, it's quite short, but the writing style is captivating and the characters are unique and interesting.

The mash-up of literary and historical references is also amazing: mythology, Xanadu, Medici's... just the names of the characters invoke thoughts of awesome literature and history. I l
Feb 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
It is so strange to come upon some of the Barker’s early work. He wrote this collection of magical tales when he was barely eighteen. The plot isn’t too complicated and yes, there are unusual occurrences characteristic for the author’s later novels, but the best part surely belongs to the protagonists, the members of the circus, who are varied and excellently represented. No horror and monsters in this one, though, but I didn’t mind it very much. Amazing images and metaphors cover for it all, as ...more
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book by Clive Barker entirely delightful. I wasn't ready for it to end. The tales herein are light and dark at the same time. The characters are particularly endearing, and their adventures were charming. I have read Barker for years and this is the first time I've read anything this "light". I hope he journeys into the world of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus again.
Oct 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
It's hard to believe that this is such an early work of Clive Barker. While I will admit that the first story "The Wedding of Indigo Murphy to the Duke Lorenzo De Vedici" was not very mch to my liking the other stories were wonderful. The imagery was vivid and I felt those stories were more compelling. I also enjoyed the images include even though they were not what I was picturing!
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Positively wonderful! the story is captivating and whimsical, but still has that darkness that Clive Barker uses so well. There's nothing like one of his creative tales to restore your faith in literature. I only wish this book was read more. It finishes quickly and will leave a smile on your face.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it liked it
After reading an exciting thriller or a long saga adventure I often choose an easy quick to read book that pulls my mind back into focus. This book just fit the bill. The Adventures of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus & His Traveling Circus reminds me of Dr. Seuss. Whimsical characters with incredible talents make it very enjoyable for one who is young or just young at heart.
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: magic
This was a different magical collection of stories that all linked together. I know that Barker is know for his horror but this was not scary and I would recommend it to anyone who likes something that is magical.
Feb 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Decent nowhere close to Barkers best.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Has more in common with Abarat than any of his horror work, which isn't a bad thing.
Apr 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Quick read. Would be nice if he wrote an actual novel based on these ideas. Characters are interesting enough in his rough characterization that I was left wanting more.
Mark Brown
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this a wonderful flight of fantasy from a young and prodigious talent who was just beginning to bloom.
Debbie Revell
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
That was rather jolly :)
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Clive Barker was born in Liverpool, England, the son of Joan Rubie (née Revill), a painter and school welfare officer, and Leonard Barker, a personnel director for an industrial relations firm. Educated at Dovedale Primary School and Quarry Bank High School, he studied English and Philosophy at Liverpool University and his picture now hangs in the entrance hallway to the Philosophy Department. It ...more

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