10 December, 2012

Review - The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

The Troupe by Robert Jackson BennettThe Troupe [US] [UK] is my first book by Robert Jackson Bennett, but surely not the last. When the highly favorable reviews started coming out earlier this year, I was very intrigued and now that I've read it, I can't really think of a better reading choice I've made this year. The only question I have now is, "Why aren't more people reading The Troupe!?" :D

George is making a name for himself as a pianist in Vaudeville, but what he really wants to do is track down his father. The only problem is that he's pretty sure his father is the one and only Silenus from The Famous Silenus Troupe, a troupe both elusive and mysterious.

I was almost immediately sucked in by Bennett's writing alone. He writes with that ineffable magical quality that makes it a joy to read the words alone, sans plot or characters. The addition of plot and characters does wonders as well. :)

The first scene alone had me smiling ear to ear, knowing this was a great choice...
"George has quit!"
"What?" said Victor, the second chair cellist. "George? Our George?"
"George the pianist?" asked Catherine, their flautist.
"The very same," said Tofty.
"What kind of quit?" asked Victor. "As in quitting the theater?"
"Yes, of course quitting the theater!" said Tofty. "What other kind of quit is there?"
"There must be some mistake," said Catherine. "Who did you hear it from?"
"From George himself!" said Tofty.
"Well, how did he phrase it?" asked Victor.
"He looked at me," said Tofty, "and he said, 'I quit.'"
Everyone stopped to consider this. There was little room for alternate interpretation in that.
"But why would he quit?" asked Catherine.
"I don't know!" cried Tofty...
George finally catches up to the Silenus Troupe and the first thing he does, not really knowing what else to do, is buy a ticket to their show. He quickly finds out that the troupe's reputation is deserving as the first act is a puppet show...but he can't see the strings? and what's with the creepy backdrop? did it just change?

George delves deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the troupe, but he's met with additional mysteries the more he finds out, the creepiness of the troupe being the least of his worries. Plunging into Bennett's imagination is both terrifying and thrilling.

At one moment I was scared out of my mind, laughing the next, and constantly (and terribly) curious the entire time. The mysteries of both the troupe and the world to which we are introduced, both similar to our own and different at the same time (not only because of the time period), are boundless and absorbing.

Bennett not only writes about magic, but his writing itself is imbued with magic and a bit of humor and even a little darkness. To be mentioned in the same breathe as Neil Gaiman would be no stretch of the imagination. The Troupe may just be the best book of 2012.

4.5 out of 5 Stars (Very Highly Recommended!)


Unknown said...

You and I tend to have the same tastes in books. I'm sold, definitely looking into this one, as if I didn't have enough books already.

Bryce L. said...

I think you just may like it. I don't know if you've read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but it kind of has some similarities there too.

Mihir said...

I really ought to read this one by now, your thoughts really nail down why I need to buy this book sson.

Ben said...

I've had this on my shelf for a while now. Looks like I'll be moving it up the TBR pile.

Bryce L. said...

Mihir and Ben - Definitely a good idea. This book was amazing in so many ways. I'll be reading lots more of Bennett, which reminds me, he has two books that are already out, what am I doing here!?! :)

Spaz said...

Loved this book, as well as his others.