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The Midnight Circus Paperback – October 1, 2020

4.0 out of 5 stars 32 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-In 16 well-crafted stories, Yolen reveals the dark underside of her imagination, delving with surgical precision into horror, suspense, and the psychological fabric of nightmare. Culled from her prolific publication history, these tales-most of which draw on European Jewish, Russian, or Scottish folklore-find fresh life in this collection, each accompanied by an original poem and notes providing additional context. This book showcases Yolen's greatest strength-her marriage of fantasy and history, especially through the lens of folklore. In "The Snatcher," Yolen entwines her own family's story with a horrific figure from Jewish history, reimagined as a dark harbinger of conscription. "Requiem Antarctica" reimagines Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic expedition through the lens of vampirism, and "Names" weaves together the horrors of anorexia and the Holocaust. The collection spans science fiction, mythology, and fairy tale, and despite its often gory imagery, remains imbued with Yolen's characteristic dry wit. Characters are rarely described physically. VERDICT An engrossing collection that will linger in readers' minds long after reading, and a perfect (re)introduction to Yolen's rich well of fantasy horror. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Leigh Bardugo.-Molly Saunders, Manatee County P.L., Bradenton, FLα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


“Jane Yolen is, simply, a legend. The powerful fairy godmother of every writer working in mythic fantasy today. In these dark and wonderful stories, that legend proves itself true over and over again, a sure hand pulling aside black and gauzy curtains to reveal a blaze of genius that will light up all the secret places of your heart.”
―Catherynne M. Valente, author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own

“Look this way, look that; blazing her consummate imagination against the shadows of human sorrow, Jane Yolen has done it again. She has produced a set of spectacles designed to keep us awake in the darkness. The Midnight Circus delights, confounds, and challenges. We read all the night long; we are not the same come dawn.”
―Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked

“A girl uses magic to call her love but not to keep him. A child born in winter hears voices calling to him in the cold wind. A lonely man falls for a selkie who sings an enticing song. Yolen often uses the language and imagery of fairy tales to weave her original, spellbinding stories, which make a cohesive collection. They’re all dark, though in most cases, that darkness encompasses loss but doesn’t revel in it. As Yolen puts it in her introduction, there's “a frisson of terror rather than massive amounts of spilt blood.” A couple of stories veer closer to true horror: The main character of “Great Gray” is drawn to the rare owls of the title because of his own predatory instincts, and the narrator of “Little Red” endures hinted-at torments because the alternative of returning home to her grandmother is somehow worse. But, as promised, there’s very little blood in these pages―just glimpses of the darkness of human nature. Some stories, like “Inscription,” read like Celtic folktales while “Requiem Antarctica” is a Jamesian tale of creeping madness at the ends of the Earth, and “An Infestation of Angels” is a retelling of the book of Exodus. And if the stories themselves somehow aren’t enough, each is accompanied by a poem that extends its themes into evocative verse. Haunting stories from a modern master.”

The Midnight Circus sings with magic, darkness, and wonder―perfect for anyone who has ever loved a fairy tale.”
―Meagan Spooner, author of Hunted

“In 16 well-crafted stories, Yolen reveals the dark underside of her imagination, delving with surgical precision into horror, suspense, and the psychological fabric of nightmare ... The collection spans science fiction, mythology, and fairy tale, and despite its often gory imagery, remains imbued with Yolen's characteristic dry wit ... An engrossing collection that will linger in readers' minds long after reading, and a perfect (re)introduction to Yolen's rich well of fantasy horror. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link, and Leigh Bardugo.”
―School Library Journal

“Nebula Award winner Yolen follows How to Fracture a Fairy Tale with another, slightly more sinister collection of delightfully dark fairy tales. Each of the 16 stories is coupled with a companion poem and fascinating story notes that allow readers to delve into Yolen’s magical worlds . . . Yolen’s many fans will be thrilled to find her largely true to form. This collection is a gift for fairy tale lovers.”
Publishers Weekly

“Each deliciously spooky tale in Jane Yolen’s Midnight Circus draws readers into fully realized worlds with strong characters who reflect the strengths―and the darkness―in all of us.”
―Susan Vaught, author of Trigger and Freaks Like Us

“Jane Yolen's stories are pure magic! They draw you in, beguile your senses, and paint the world in richer hues than you've ever seen. Her tales will haunt you in the very best way. I loved every word!”
―Sarah Beth Durst, author of Race the Sands

“This collection teems with Yolen’s weird, folkloric verve. Her menagerie of stories is distilled from a cauldron of fairytales, legends, and history, featuring everything from selkies to shapeshifters; witches, weavers, and warriors; and angels murderous to ravenous.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

"The stories span five decades from 1974 to 2018, and each is a caliginous gem. Even long-time fans of the author's work will find new delights here.

“5/5 stars. A wonderful collection of short stories! Each one is its own self-contained story that is just perfection.”
Ash & Books

“Overall, this is a wonderful collection of tales that is perfect for sitting around the campfire or for a fun fall or winter read (definitely Halloween worthy)!”
Fantastically Bookish

“Essential reading for all fans of Yolen’s work, especially those who are less familiar with the darker side of her imagination.”
The Fantasy Hive

“A master writer with a prodigious oeuvre and these are some of her best dark stories.”
―Nonstop Reader

“Every story is excellent. I didn't want to stop reading.”

Praise for the Jane Yolen Classic Fantasy anthology series

On 2018 World Fantasy Award winner The Emerald Circus

[STARRED REVIEW] “These delightful retellings of favorite stories will captivate newcomers and fans of Yolen as she once again delivers the magic, humor, and lovely prose that has attracted readers for years.”
Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW] “These highly entertaining retellings are perfect for teens fans of fairy tales and classic literature, though they are easily enjoyed without any background knowledge.”
School Library Journal

“From Snow Queen to spaceship, The Emerald Circus is a delight.”
―Patricia A. McKillip, author of the Riddle-Master trilogy

On 2019 Anne Izard Storytelling Award Winner How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

“Jane Yolen at her best, telling stories you’ve never seen before but have known all your life, and stories as familiar as your left hand that you barely recognize, spun from shadows and moonlight and breathed through silvered glass.”
―Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles

“Yolen takes well-known fairy tales and splits them apart, sometimes leaving them still quite familiar and other times shining a light from an unfamiliar angle to reveal new truths and possibilities”
―Margo Kelly, author of Unlocked

“A master storyteller at her best.”
―Chanda Hahn, bestselling author of Reign

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tachyon Publications (October 1, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1616963409
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1616963408
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.65 x 8.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.0 out of 5 stars 32 ratings

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