The Troupe

The Troupe
Robert Jackson Bennett
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Thu, 02/02/2012

A 16-year-old boy follows a vaudeville troupe around America’s poorer regions nearly a hundred years ago.

But what he doesn't realise isthat the fate of creation itself rests with the bizarrely talented and magical characters in the company.  The plot focuses not only on how he forces himself into the interesting dynamic of the touring troupe, but how he is linked to the mystical world he was completely ignorant of. This is one of those fantasy books that wears its genre origins lightly.  You have a very engaging and accurate-seeming look at variety theatre of the time, into which comes folk tale, elementals, bad creatures and a lot more, in such a way the general reader couldn’t really object.  And for the fantasy fan Bennett drops in everything very satisfactorily, with a gothic-tinged, low-key American style of legend.

There’s a problem with remembering the hero is only 16, but for a doorstopper of a novel this flows very quickly, with no sign of it being too long.  The intrigue is the perfect match of what one can guess and what will surprise one, meaning this maintains its readability to the end.

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