Jane Yolen’s THE EMERALD CIRCUS leaves the audience spellbound
Jane Yolen’s perfectly crafted prose in THE EMERALD CIRCUS bedazzles and fascinates.
Photo: Jason Stemple
Meagan Logsdon, in FOREWORD REVIEWS, garnishes the outing with a starred review.
THE EMERALD CIRCUS is a moving collection of stories that conveys timeless truths as it affectionately plays with traditional tales.
Jane Yolen’s latest collection is a wonderful menagerie of twists on classic fairy tales, legends, and the lives of literary figures. These stories parade beneath a circus tent knit by the underlying theme of the power of art.
The prose never fails to entrance, and the creativity on display impresses. There is an obvious depth of research and care, particularly evident in “The Jewel in the Toad Queen’s Crown,” a tale centering on Disraeli, the intriguing Jewish-turned-Anglican prime minister of Victoria’s England on two separate occasions. Notes in the back on each individual story offer a peek into the mind of the writer and give context for Yolen’s inspiration. These are interspersed with a few of her own poems, which are warm and inviting.
The Emerald Circus dances at the border between bucking tradition and paying homage to the great stories and figures of ages past. The result is a brilliant assemblage of narratives with the potential to leave an audience spellbound.
FANTASY LITERATURE offers two reviews of the collection.
Tadiana Jones says:
Under the big top of THE EMERALD CIRCUS (2017) is a fantastical assemblage of sixteen short stories and novelettes by Jane Yolen. Historical figures like Emily Dickinson, Benjamin Disraeli, Hans Christian Andersen and Edgar Allen Poe enter the three rings and shed their normal identities, dancing across the high wires and peering into tigers’ mouths. In this circus’ House of Mirrors we also see unexpectedly twisted reflections of fictional characters like Alice in Wonderland (who makes an appearance here in two very different Yolen tales), Merlin, and Dorothy Gale. A few fairy tale characters ― the Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, Red Riding Hood and the wolf ― round out the performers in this entrancing circus.
THE EMERALD CIRCUS is a circus worth visiting and revisiting from time to time.
Your mileage may vary on the author’s notes for each story; I generally find insight into an author’s creative process to be fascinating, and that was certainly the case in The Emerald Circus. Yolen writes honestly about her difficulties in finishing projects or meeting deadlines, as well as her own insecurities and triumphs. The blank- and free verse poems provided an additional level of insight into how Yolen considers her characters from multiple angles.
All in all, THE EMERALD CIRCUS was fascinating and enjoyable, and there are certainly a few stories that I’ll be coming back to again and again.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL includes the collection among Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2017.
Tackling everything from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the real magic behind Hans Christian Andersen and Emily Dickinson, Yolen reimagines folktales, legends, literature, and history with these 16 dazzling fantastic stories. The immensely talented author refreshingly blends feminist politics, perfectly crafted prose, and a childlike sense of the magic of reality.
On POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR, A podcast from NPR, praises THE EMERALD CIRCUS (at about 18:52).
People who love
fairy tales and mythic stories but love it even more when a certain
amount of analytical intellect is apply to them are really going to
enjoy this book.
For more info on THE EMERALD CIRCUS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story