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Apr 10

The Troupe – Robert Jackson Bennett

About the book

 

Vaudeville: mad,mercenary, dreamy, and absurd, a world of clashing cultures and ferociousshowmanship and wickedly delightful deceptions.

 

But sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole hasjoined vaudeville for one reason only: to find the man he suspects to be hisfather, the great Heironomo Silenus. Yet as he chases down his father’s troupe,he begins to understand that their performances are strange even forvaudeville: for wherever they happen to tour, the very nature of the worldseems to change

 

Because there is a secret within Silenus’s showso ancient and dangerous that it has won him many powerful enemies. And it’snot until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe is not simplytouring: they are running for their very lives.

 

And soon, George is as well.

 

Published:Feb 21, 2012

Publishedby: Orbit

Author’swebpage

 

This book was sent as a review copy from the publisher.

 

—–

 

I feel like all I read is good books recently. The truth is, this scares the hell out of me because when my book slump hits, it’s going to hit hard.

 

The Troupe is one of those books that israther hard to label. It’s a little historical, a little horror, and a littlefantasy. It doesn’t really comfortably fit into any one genre. It’s one ofthose books that toes a lot of lines, and that’s one of the main things thatreally appeals to me. It’s not ordinary. It doesn’t neatly fit into any boxes.It is whatever you interpret it to be as you read it. I like the books thatdon’t really follow the trends, where the authors proudly scribble out theirvisions and damn the norm.

 

The Troupe tells the story of youngGeorge, a sixteen-year-old on the search for the father he never met. After atip from his grandmother, he discovers that his father was a vaudevilleperformer, and a rather mysterious one at that. With much trial and error, hefinally catches up to his father and discovers that things aren’t what theyseem.

 

Bennett does a wonderful job at weaving together an incredibly intricate, multi layeredtale, all the while keeping readers up in arms about what exactly is going onand how it’s all happening. In fact, the atmospheric feel to the book is quiteincredible. Every page is filled with an incredible eerie sense that somethingimportant lies just beneath the surface, and the book plods on to discover whatit is. Bennett bides his time and delicately reveals a bit more of the mysteryat important, opportune moments.

 

Perhapsone of the most surprising aspects of this book is how vast in scope it is.Bennett packed The Troupe full ofbackground, history and lore and the secret that this book hinges on isn’t asmall thing. In fact, for one book that is a bit of this and a bit of that,Bennett does an amazing job with making his story incredibly epic in scope.There is much more here than what meets the eye, and that’s part of the magicof it.

 

George himself is a character you’ll at times love and hate. He’s a truesixteen-year-old boy who has more talent than he has brains. His forethought isfrustratingly nonexistent and his desire to get attention and woo the ladies isalso rather typical for the age but also frustrating as it keeps him fromseeing what’s right in front of him. However, that being said, George is thetypical boy thrust into a role that he didn’t expect and didn’t want, andbecause of that and his reactions to much of what is happening around him, mostreaders will grow to love him (even though he might be aggravating at times).He’s believable, and shockingly human. Even his naiveté is charming.

 

Bennett’s writing is rather understated. It’s easy to follow and has a smooth cadencewithout any plot-bogging descriptions. In fact, I’m surprised how much depth hemanaged to pack into this book with such a simple style of writing. Not onlydoes the plot have depth, but he also sheds light on the old art of AmericanShowmanship and the Vaudeville circuits, which is something I knew absolutelynothing about before this.

 

If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved TheTroupe and I devoured every word of it. The Troupe was a breath of fresh air. It charmed me from the firstpage. In this book you’ll find shocking depth, fantastic writing, loveablecharacters and even a bit of education. While it’s nearly impossible for me tosay if this would be classified more as fantasy or horror, that’s also a greatappeal. Who wants the same-old-same-old when you can have a story that blazesits own trail and will stick with you long after you finish its last page?

 

5/5 stars

 

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5 comments

1 ping

  1. Paul Weimer

    Another glowingly positive review of this book. Hmmm. I might have to reconsider not-reading this book.

  2. redhead

    I just finished The Troupe earlier this afternoon, and LOVED it. Paul, you really should read this!

  3. Sarah (Bookworm Blues)

    I am glad you liked it! It's so worth reading. Paul, you should give it a go.

  4. Mandorallen

    This book is racking it up man. Dig it.

  5. MrMikeMyself

    I loved The Troupe, too.

    I’ve said it before elsewhere, for a book that covered such a wide range of genres (historical, horror, fantasy) at its heart it truly is a coming-of-age story. Throughout the novel we watch the main character, George, mature from impulsive teenager to responsible young man.

    Paul, or anyone who’s on the fence about reading this book, you should definitely give it a shot.

  1. Audiobook Review: The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett « The Guilded Earlobe

    [...] Blues listed The Troupe as one of her Top 10 Books of 2012. Check out her review and interview with the [...]

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