The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

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. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available on October first.

Jane Yolen is a big name in fantasy. While she’s written a ton of other books – the incredibly popular How Does a Dinosaur ? children’s book series being some of them – I always think of her fantasy books first. How could I pass up a chance to read her newest collection of short stories?

Overall, this was a solid group of stories. As with any short story collection, some stories were better than others, but the majority were really good. Yolen is comfortable and confident in her ability to weave a tale, and it shows. She includes a plethora of fantastical creatures, and no story was like another.

These are darker stories, so be aware of that. A couple of them actually took a harsh enough tone that I skipped parts. However, they aren’t harsh just to elicit a reaction. Even the hard stories have a purpose behind the content. That being said, be aware that these aren’t your Disney happily-ever-after tales.

I have to mention a few of my favorites in the collection, of course! I loved “Winter’s King,” which felt mysterious and sad. It was beautifully written and felt complete, even though the ending was not exactly a happy one (see my thoughts on happily-ever-afters above). This story showcased Yolen’s ability to create an entire world with just a few pages.

“The Fisherman’s Wife” was another favorite of mine. It felt the most like your typical fairy tale out of all the stories in this collection. I loved the simple, circular feel to it. Plus-selkies!

Finally, I really enjoyed “Wilding.” The best way to describe is bizarre. I can’t really compare, or even explain it, it was so unique. I thought the ending was the perfect beginning for a full-length novel and I’m curious to see if anything ever comes of that.

I consider a short story collection a good one if I like more stories than I dislike. The Midnight Circus definitely ended up in the “good” category for me. If you like your fantasy with a slightly darker edge, check this out.

5 thoughts on “The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

  1. Now this is interesting! It usually annoys me a little to see how after one book has success on a certain topic, a thousand others appear almost ripping off the concept of the first one. It may be just me but yeah.. however, to take the idea of a magic circus and make it into short stories, that sounds really good! I will check this one out, thanks for telling us about it!


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