Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Troupe by Robert Jackson Bennett

The TroupeThe cover of the book has the blurb "...Thriller, Cerebral Horror and American Gothic", and this is mostly true. The thriller aspect is present, but the teen protagonist is so in his own head that the tension is muted and the action scenes have a fuzzy dreamlike quality.

The horror is also rather muted, considering some of the fare out there, but this is definitely a classic example of American Gothic, hitting every note of sin, self-destruction, and evil embodied in supernatural creatures.

There are some interesting characters developed in the novel. So much so that I wish that the book were a hundred pages longer so as to give them more depth. The romantic entanglements were never explicitly explored; and some flashbacks wouldn't have hurt.

The bittersweet ending was a bit pat, but overall the solid writing makes this is a strong book. Believable, sometimes sparse dialog is set against and a muted gray world (or worlds). Perhaps this is something to read on a rainy day.

Some reviewers have called this the top fantasy novel of 2012. I'd put it in the top ten, perhaps as an exception, but Gothic is horror, not fantasy.

"...a melancholy coming-of-age tale with a moody atmosphere... The Troupe is a genuinely powerful piece of work." -SFX

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