Looking for a dark, magical read for Christmas? Jee reviews ‘The Midnight Circus’ by @JaneYolen @TachyonPub #bookreview #TheMidnightCircus #darkfairytales #shortstories #shortstorycollection #folklore #fantasy #magic #magicalrealism #retelling

Title/Author: The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

Publisher: Tachyon Publication

Pages: 256

In a nutshell (Publisher):

In the newest volume of her World Fantasy Award-winning short story collections, beloved author Jane Yolen’s dark side has fully emerged. Her vivid, startling, and thrilling tales and poems of the supernatural―from icy-hearted witches to sometimes-innocent shapeshifters―reveal a classic storyteller at the height of her powers.

“Look this way, look that; blazing her consummate imagination against the shadows of human sorrow, Jane Yolen has done it again.”―Gregory Maguire, author of 

Jane Yolen is the Hans Christian Andersen of America” ―The New York Times

Welcome to the Midnight Circus―and watch your step. The dark imaginings of fantasy icon Jane Yolen are not for the faint of heart. In these sixteen brilliantly unnerving tales and poems, Central Park becomes a carnival where you can―but probably shouldn’t―transform into a wild beast. The Red Sea will be deadly to cross due to a plague of voracious angels. Meanwhile, the South Pole is no place for even a good man, regardless of whether he is living or dead.

Wicked, solemn, and chilling, the circus is ready for your visit―just don’t arrive late.

My verdict: A magical, fantastical collection of short stories!

My thoughts:

Welcome to The Midnight Circus, the circus that showcases monsters and snatchers, witches and werewolves, selkies and sea-queens in every act. If you’re familiar with Jane Yolen’s works, you know it would be wise to enter at your own risk.

Here’s an brief outline of what each story is about:

The Weaver of Tomorrow: A girl wanted to be able to foretell future and therefore was apprenticed to a weaver who can bestow upon her the ability, to which the girl later regretted.

The White Seal Maid – a lonely fisherman who was mysteriously called to the sea one night, met a seal who turned into a beautiful maiden (a selkie), married her and had seven sons. He never felt loved by them, and one day, they just left him and returned to the sea.

Wilding – Set in Central Park, NYC, Zena who went Wilding with her friends was almost killed but was saved by her will to survive. A very YA-like story.

Requiem Antartica – this one was dark and gruesome; about a man who was not a vampire but also not a man. It was based on the story of a famous north pole expedition by R. F. Scott. Lots of TW!!

The House of Seven Angels – About a boy who saw angels serving dinner to a Ukrainian rabbi in his village, until one day he saw an eighth angel who didn’t look like the rest.

Night Wolves – A boy who overcame his own fear of ghosts and bears and wolves.

Great Grayboy who worshiped the great owl and had a very peculiar behavior.

Little Red (with Adam Stemple) – a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood. This one had Red in an infirmary, who was overcoming her own demons and escaping the real world by creating her own.

Winter’s King – about a boy could hear the whispers of the wind and was always drawn to the cold.

Inscription– a girl who avenged a man who impregnated her, decided to use magic to bring him back to her.

Dog Boyhalf human half dog, who was doted by his mother, but treated like a dog by his father, who trained him to track and trail and used him for his own selfish, cruel deeds.

The Fisherman’s Wife – fisherman, John, found a sea-queen, her body a pale-green cast, on one of his walks to the market. When he left his mute wife for the sea-queen, she decided to get him back even if it meant diving deep into the sea.

Become A Warrior – this story reminded me a little bit of Mulan. This was about a girl who avenged her father’s death by pretending to be a boy.

An Infestation of Angels – In the land of lithe Gipts under the skies that rained frogs, a leader of the People had to come up with an idea to convince the faro to release her kinfolk, to save them from being eaten by the angels.

Names – A girls was born to her mother calling out the names on the death roll call she remembered from the concentration camp her mother had been in, and it affected her deeply.

Overall, this is another strong collection of stories by Jane Yolen. I have quite a few that I really enjoyed. I loved the strong female characters in ‘Become a Warrior’ and ‘Wilding’ who didn’t let the society define them. I also loved ‘The Fisherman’s Wife’ who defied the odds to get back the man she loves, and ‘Night Wolf’ the boy who fought his fear for monsters. ‘The Dog Boy’ was good too! True to Yolen’s style, these stories are dark and grim with a touch of magic and fantasy. In an anthology, one’s bound to have some stories that would speak to them more than others.

Yolen also shared the background and idea behind each story and poem, which I really enjoyed reading. They made me appreciate her work even more. And I absolutely adore the cover!

These stories are meant to be savored, a few at a time.

Last year, fairytale was my chosen genre for Christmas too! My post here. This is beginning to look like a ‘regular’ thing for me LOL

Thank you NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for providing the free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Have you read ‘The Midnight Circus’? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you intend to? Have you read any other books by this author? Do you enjoy fairytales and retellings? Do you have any good ones to recommend? Please share with me your thoughts!

I also want to take this chance to wish all of you, my dear lovely bibliophiles, a happy & blessed Christmas! May your holidays be filled with lots of love, joy and peace!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Merry Christmas, friend! I hope it’s wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      THank you, Jodie! I hope yours was too! 🙂


  2. nsfordwriter says:

    This sounds pretty interesting! And I love the cover too. Season’s greetings to you Jee :)♥

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you, NS! Right back at you! 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed this book 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. From the small descriptions that you have shared, the stories feel like they are meant to be savored! I definitely want to read this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      I hope you will get a chance to read it, Shaina 🙂


  4. I like this, Jee! Sounds so magical, too 💫
    Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year, friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you and same to you, Scarlett!


  5. That cover is so mesmerizing! You definitely got me curious here. I do find that anthologies (or a collection of stories) tend to be a hit or miss with me but it’s always nice to have so much diversity in one book! Thank you for sharing! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jee Wan says:

      Thank you for reading, Lashaan! I appreciate it 💕I thought the cover was amazing too!💕😀

      Liked by 1 person

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