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The Troupe Paperback – February 21, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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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 www.robertjacksonbennett.com.

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 (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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. His fifth novel, City of Stairs, is in stores now.

He lives in Austin with his wife and son. He can be found on Twitter at @robertjbennett.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Kindle Edition
Using its Vaudeville act as cover, a troupe of mystical individuals travels the country on a supernatural mission to save the world, or- if you will- a troupe of supernatural individuals travels the country on a mystical mission to save the world. It's all kind of vague. In any event, nipping at the troupe's heels while all this is happening is a group of supernatural/mystical enemies with its own agenda, which is also kind of vague.

To be fair, the magic in the book is meant to be lyrical, mysterious, and not totally explainable in a clear narrative sense. After all, the troupe of the title is traveling around the country gathering pieces of an ancient song than can- alternately, depending on what character is explaining things- prevent pieces of the world from disappearing, bring back pieces that have already disappeared, and/or restore the balance of the universe itself. It's pretty mind bending, but, yeah, still a little vague.

Anyway, here's what works: the details about the troupe's grueling Vaudeville circuit (where an exhausting schedule doesn't prevent wonderful, strange performances); how the gifted yet misfit members of the troupe befriend each other as they daily confront their enemies and challenges, both natural and otherwise; and the many imaginative displays of magic and the supernatural- many small and whimsical, others downright epic and mind-blowing.

I did find the stakes a bit unclear, the nature of the magic often shifting and changing, and the story as a whole a little long. But I suspect others- especially those who embrace lyricism, poetry, and imagery over explanation- will be fine with most of this, and perhaps like it very much.

I will say this: this particular genre- fantasy unfolding in a real-world setting- doesn't usually grab me much, but in this case I had a pretty good time with it.
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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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