Paula Guran Reviews The Midnight Circus by Jane Yolen

The Midnight Circus, Jane Yolen (Tachyon Publications 978-1-616-96340-8, $16.95, 256pp, tp) November 2020.

The prolific, multi-award-winning Jane Yolen is a bona fide legend and, at least to those of us on the darker side of genre, has long been noted for what Theodora Goss calls – in her excellent foreword – the darkness “in much of her work, both fiction and poetry, because her writing is grounded in history and human nature, which have a dark edge.” What was obvious to us was evidently more of a surprise, however, to Yolen. In the introduction to new collection The Midnight Circus, she writes of being somewhat surprised to find she had 40 appropriately dark stories (later cut down to 16 that she and her editors felt fit the bill) for the theme. She also matched poems to each (nine newly written for this volume). Their range is wide and varied. There are selkies and mermaids, bloody revenge and deathbed confession, rapists, murderers, strange children, bewitched lovers; tales set in the past and the future. As Goss points out, Yolen’s tales “show us how we can survive in a difficult world and teach us what to value… wise guides to reality.” The stories span five decades, from 1974 to 2018, and each is a caliginous gem. Even long-time fans of the author’s work will find new delights here.

Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron, Ohio, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.

This review and more like it in the November 2020 issue of Locus.

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