Robert Jackson Bennett has won multiple awards for his novels; including the Shirley Jackson Award, the Sydney J. Bounds Newcomer Award, and the Edgar Award. The Troupe is Bennett's third novel.
George Carole is a talented, 16-year-old pianist searching for a father he has never met after having lost his mother at the time of his birth. In an effort to locate his father - a man he believes to be the infamous vaudeville troupe leader Heironomo Silenus - George joins the vaudeville industry to bring him one step closer to a reunion with his long-lost father.
Upon finding his father and attending a performance by his troupe, George learns that there is far more behind the troupe's performance than just a handful of freakish acts. In fact, the effect that Silenus' troupe has on their audiences is changing the world for the better - and is so strong, that the troupe is constantly on the run from entities intent on destroying them.
After joining Silenus' troupe in an effort to help cure the world through numerous vaudeville acts, George is faced with accepting new magical possibilities and theories - theories that if proven true, may rid of the world of evil indefinitely.
Set in the early 20th century, The Troupe opens onto the rich vaudeville scene in all its captivating and seductive splendor. After a brief few chapters of learning more about George and his purpose, the novel picks up hastily in chapter 3, when George is able to locate his father's troupe and finally attends their show. The rest of The Troupe is a wild journey that encompasses a slew of genres; including fantasy, horror, and mystery - all in all, a true literary jackpot.
After having read the publisher's synopsis for The Troupe, as well as the descriptions of Bennett's other novels, I expected a horrifying, make-me-cringe-and-puke experience while reading this novel. However, the novel is actually very surprisingly pleasant and genius, and nothing of what you may expect. The Troupe's plot is so complex and intricate that it will leave you digesting its concept after each reading, and especially after you finish the book.
The Troupe is, without a doubt, tremendously creative, and has a lulling effect - which for me, means that you can read this novel and simply enjoy it without struggling to care about solving the mystery, or figuring out the plot secrets or outcome. You can just sit back, and enjoy the ride. The Troupe is impossible to predict - which makes it an amazing and golden find for readers who want their brain and creativity exercised.
Other novels by Robert Jackson Bennett include The Company Man, Mr. Shivers, and American Elsewhere, which is due out next year in 2013. If you enjoyed Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, or even Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder, you will most likely really love The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett.
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What did you think about The Troupe? Have you read any other novels by Robert Jackson Bennett, and if so, what are your thoughts? Share your opinions and general thoughts with us in the comments section below.