Fantasy Reviews Fantasy Short Stories

Review: The Midnight Circus, by Jane Yolen

If you’ve ever read a fantasy short story, you’ve most likely heard of Jane Yolen. She’s the kind of fabled writer whose bibliography would take up an entire bookshelf and is much beloved by readers everywhere. I’m consistently amazed at how many stories Yolen is able to tell, each of them filled with something special. Of her most recent collection of stories, The Midnight Circus, I can say that her storytelling ability remains stronger than ever. It’s a wonderful collection of little tales that both enchant and teach valuable lessons with each conclusion.

As a lover of fairy tales, my favorite feature of the storytelling style is how much meaning can be crammed into so few words. It doesn’t take long to teach a valuable lesson when you’re able to capture the reader’s imagination. Yolen doesn’t mess around with drawn out plots and extra sentences. She dives right into the characters and somehow paints a vivid picture while leaving out a lot of the descriptions. This method gives the reader a solid starting point before allowing them to form their own mental pictures as the stories unfold. There’s nothing better than taking over a story with your own imagination, and to have it be so well crafted is an exciting bonus.

The stories themselves feature all manner of settings and characters, ranging from your classic fairy tale with larger than life creatures and myths, to common legends told during the 20th century. We’re not sequestered to fairy lands but carted around between modern day and magic. There were a couple that I got lost in, almost forgetting that I was reading fiction instead of fact. It’s a great collection if you’re looking for a vivid explosion of imagination for a few minutes at a time.

My favorite story was the first in the collection, ‘The Weaver of Tomorrow.’ I loved this little story about a young woman who wants to know everything there is to know. It’s a great start to a book of fairy tales, charting the course for grandiose settings and fantastical beings that defy reality. It’s a journey teetering between excitement, wonder, and sorrow, all fit within a few pages.

Overall, I’m as impressed with The Midnight Circus as I expected to be. Seeing a writer continue to perfect their form is always exciting, and with Yolen, you know you’ll be thrust into worlds known and unknown, leaving the pages a little wiser and a bit further removed from the humdrum happenings of real life.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

The Midnight Circus

By Jane Yolen
Published by Tachyon Publications
Paperback, 256 pages

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Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

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