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The Troupe Paperback – February 21, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Bennett's finely crafted novel rises on a wave of suspense to a place of beauty and hope."
Publishers Weekly

"This is the kind of book that will find its ways into one's hands again and again over the years."―Booklist

"...a melancholy coming-of-age tale with a moody atmosphere... The Troupe is a genuinely powerful piece of work."―SFX

"The Troupe is true magic: a gripping tale that reminds the audience why we fell in love with reading. This book enchants, leaving the audience on their feet, yelling for an encore."―Mat Johnson, author of Pym

"Thought-provoking, beautifully written, and highly recommended"―Sci Fi Bulletin

About the Author

Robert Jackson Bennett was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, the Sydney J. Bounds Award, and an Edgar Award, he is the author of the novels Mr. Shivers, The Company Man, The Troupe, and American Elsewhere. Find out more about the author at

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 Original edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316187526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316187527
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Darren J Guest on March 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
For a long time I could count on one hand the number of authors whose new releases I anticipated with any real excitement, but once I read Robert Jackson Bennett's award-winning debut novel Mr Shivers, I had to start counting on both. Now, after reading his third and latest novel, I'm pleased to say my excitement has not diminished, and I'm already looking ahead to his fourth. But for now, let us journey along the vaudevillian circuit with a disparate band of players collectively better known as The Troupe.

Sixteen-year-old George Carole has been the house pianist at Otterman's Vaudeville Theatre for six months, but when he hears that The Silenus Troupe is playing in a nearby town, he quickly packs his bags and heads for the train station with only one thing on his mind: finding the man he suspects of being his father, the great Heironomo Silenus. George finally tracks his father down, but discovers something far stranger than the troupe's performances. The very texture of the night is different somehow, and time and space as George knows it has been altered, meaning only one thing: The men in grey are here. Let the show begin...

Bennett wastes little time in getting the story steaming and tooting along its dusty tracks, but sacrifices nothing in the setting of the vaudevillian scene. Greasepaint will skid on your fingers as you turn the pages, and your reading lamp will illuminate a faded backdrop, before which a top-hatted and moustachioed gent will appear on stage and regale you with the splendid and exotic acts that are to come. And splendid and exotic they are too.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MyBookishWays on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
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 enchanted, especially with the beautiful acrobat Colette, and fascinated with Silenus. After leaving the performance, he encounters the grey men (seriously creepy), who also seem to be after the Silenus troupe, but for much different reasons than George. It's when George attempts to warn the troupe of the grey men's presence that the real adventure, and terror, begins.

See, George has a little something special inside of him, and it's part of what makes him so valuable to Silenus and his troupe, because the troupe is much, much more than just a vaudeville act, as George will soon discover. The Troupe is, at its heart, George's coming of age story, but it's also a far-reaching magical epic. Set in a time when vaudeville and minstrel shows were popular, and horse and carriages still lingered, The Troupe is a book that you want to read without distraction, because there are quite a few big ideas in play. Don't let that scare you. The author manages to weave horror elements (wolves in human clothing and the grey men), with not so traditional fantasy elements (some rather terrifying fairies), and even southern gothic into a rich tapestry that you'll want to savor, bit by bit. There is a song that was lost when man and earth was created (The First Song), and Silenus' troupe has been gathering bits of it back together, in hopes of saving our world.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Justin Landon on March 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
I admit, prior to reading The Troupe, I had no idea what vaudeville was all about. I had an idea in my head, based on implied fuzzy cultural memory, but it's not something I'd ever taken a moment to actually look into. According to the arbiter of truthiness, Wikipedia, vaudeville is:

...a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill. Types of acts included popular and classical musicians, dancers, comedians, trained animals, magicians, female and male impersonators, acrobats, illustrated songs, jugglers, one-act plays or scenes from plays, athletes, lecturing celebrities, minstrels, and movies.

Having read The Night Circus and paged through Mechanique, two circus themed novels from 2011, I classified Bennett's novel in my mind as another entrant in this newly popularized subgenre. Vaudville isn't the same as a circus, but I was expecting a similar type of novel where the setting is as much a character as the people that populate it. Troupe shattered those notions. Plot and character driven, set against a vaudville background, Bennett's novel calls to mind the stylings of Neil Gaiman and lives up to the comparison.

Sixteen-year-old pianist George Carole has joined vaudeville to find Heironomo Silenus, the man he suspects to be his father. As he chases down Silenus's troupe, he begins to understand that their performances are unique even for vaudeville and strange happenings follow in their wake. It's not until after he joins them that George realizes the troupe isn't simply touring, and Silenus is hiding a secret as old as time itself.
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