The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett
Orbit Books (Feb 2012) | Paperback, 512 pages

Fantasy | Horror

When I started reading The Troupe I thought it was going to be another The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as it involved a performance group and what sounded like a rather twisted love story. I loved The Night Circus, so I was not averse to reading something similar, although I was not convinced how anything was going to be as good. I was wrong, completely wrong.

The Troupe is a love story, but not in the traditional sense. Yes, boy meets girl and falls in love, but this story is eclipsed by a deep, dark foreboding force and a sense that nothing will ever be the same again. The lead character is seventeen year old George. George is a talented pianist who joins a vaudeville troupe in search of the father that abandoned him and his mother before he was born. His father, Heironomo Silenus, runs a vaudevillian troupe and young George joins the troupe in the hope of a loving reunion with his father. All is not as it appears and George soon discovers they are all on the run for their lives.

Bennett achieves something that not many authors do. He makes beauty out of a bleak landscape, he creates characters that are almost so loathsome that you can’t help but read on and eloquently describes love born out of grief. Through the young and spiteful George we go on a journey across the country and through time looking for pieces of the Creator’s song.

The song is sung at the end of the troupe’s performance to keep the darkness at bay. It has been Silenus’s mission for not just decades but at least a century to find all the pieces of the song, protecting humanity in the process from the darkness. The troupe is a dysfunctional family of strange but alluring characters, and as the typical arrogant and selfish teenager, George doesn’t realise the end game until it is too late.

It is almost impossible to adequately describe The Troupe without giving too much away. This is a novel that is bleak yet heartwarming, gruesome yet loving, full of hope yet burdened with despair. In the final chapters there is a myriad of emotions that grow through the pages that it takes at least a second read through to thoroughly appreciate Bennett’s message.


This novel was a surprise as I wasn’t expecting it to be as harrowing as it was. The final chapters were so gruesome they were borderline horror and as the reader you weren’t really sure what was happening or how the story was going to play out. I was certain there wasn’t going to be a truly happy ending and had this happened I would have felt cheated. The Troupe is a love story but not like any other love story I have ever read as the love is steeped in grief and betrayal. The Troupe isn’t for the feint hearted, but for those who want a truly spectacular and mind blowing read I highly recommend it.


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A displaced Canadian living in the UK who when not reading is often found trawling through GoodReads looking for something to read or buying another book on Amazon. [Melanie no longer reviews for the site.]


Gemma July 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

Ooh, this sounds really good. It puts me in mind of a TV show, but for the life of me I can’t rember the name. *Goes to have a look on IMDB*Ah! Carnivaile. Name completly slipped my mind!

I love when books surprise you! :)


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I LOVED Carnivale. It was an excellent show and too bad it got cancelled after only a season (or was it 2?)


Carmen July 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

Definitely sounds like a good read. Ooh I do like the sound of this one!


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm

its a goody


Laura July 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Ooh another five star! What a good week for books we’re having, this sounds very intriguing. Not something I would necessarily normally pick up, but I may just have to now :-)


Carolyn July 17, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I must admit this does sound intriguing, but I read Mr Shivers by RJB and really didn’t like it, so it’s put me off a bit from reading anything else by him…

We are having a good week in ratings :D


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Who is going to get to have book of the month? Is it going to go down to fisticuffs?


Gemma July 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Just so you know, My Ninja Penguins and Commando Monkeys are at the ready. (Bludbunnies are still trying to be sourced!!!)


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Hey…bludbunnies are illegial in this alternate reality!


melanie July 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

you’ll find out tonight if you wake up with claws and a taste for blud…..mwaaahhaaaa haaaaaa (that is my best evil laugh so please appreciate it)


Gemma July 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Where is this blubunnie law??? ;)


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Its in the vampiric alternative steampunk universe law chapter 5 article 2 under deadly animals that may be used in book review battles.


Gemma July 17, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Ah, but you missed the ammendment! Its in sub section 34, paragraph :_

It states “It doesn’t apply to any reviewers called Gemma! “:P


Laura July 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm

LOLOL too funny! :-D


Melanie July 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I don’t think that addendum was actually ratified by the inter-dimensional, alternative universe convention 2012.

Sorry…no bludbunnies



Gemma July 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Check. Which spelling is it in the document Blood or Blud?

*sigh* I think I need chocolate!


Gemma July 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Memo to self NEVER let bloodsugar levels go too low again! May begin to believe BLudbunnies are real! They aren’t are they?? :D


[…] I was completely stunned to find out today that Book Chick City has given THE TROUPE a huge 5 star review. It is almost impossible to adequately describe THE TROUPE without giving too much away. This is […]

[…] is the “August Book of the Month” over at Book Chick City. If you haven’t read their 5 star review, now’s your chance! (I guess really any time in the future could also be your chance, but […]

[…] Chick City: #1 out of 10 (Melanie’s picks). THE TROUPE is one of few truly unique books I have ever read. The plot was gritty, horrific, beautiful and […]

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