Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Troupe - Robert Jackson Bennett


About the book

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

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

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

And soon, George is as well.


Published: Feb 21, 2012
Published by: Orbit
Author’s webpage

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

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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 is rather hard to label. It’s a little historical, a little horror, and a little fantasy. It doesn’t really comfortably fit into any one genre. It’s one of those books that toes a lot of lines, and that’s one of the main things that really 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 that don’t really follow the trends, where the authors proudly scribble out their visions and damn the norm.

The Troupe tells the story of young George, a sixteen-year-old on the search for the father he never met. After a tip from his grandmother, he discovers that his father was a vaudeville performer, and a rather mysterious one at that. With much trial and error, he finally catches up to his father and discovers that things aren’t what they seem.

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

Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of this book is how vast in scope it is. Bennett packed The Troupe full of background, history and lore and the secret that this book hinges on isn’t a small 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 magic of it.

George himself is a character you’ll at times love and hate. He’s a true sixteen-year-old boy who has more talent than he has brains. His forethought is frustratingly nonexistent and his desire to get attention and woo the ladies is also rather typical for the age but also frustrating as it keeps him from seeing what’s right in front of him. However, that being said, George is the typical boy thrust into a role that he didn’t expect and didn’t want, and because of that and his reactions to much of what is happening around him, most readers 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 cadence without any plot-bogging descriptions. In fact, I’m surprised how much depth he managed to pack into this book with such a simple style of writing. Not only does the plot have depth, but he also sheds light on the old art of American Showmanship and the Vaudeville circuits, which is something I knew absolutely nothing about before this.

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

5/5 stars

8 comments:

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

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

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

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  3. This book is racking it up man. Dig it.

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  4. I'm a new follower and I reblogged your review: http://www.trevorkidd.com/2012/04/bookworm-blues-troupe-robert-jackson.html

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  5. After reading your post, I am looking forward to this. plz keep going and I am looking forward to your next post.

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