Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Scarlet Circus

The Scarlet Circus is a beautifully curated thematic collection of short fiction, poetry, and ruminations on love in all its iterations by Jane Yolen. Released 14th Feb (of course) 2023 by Tachyon, it's 256 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately

This is a nicely varied and wide ranging collection.  Most of the material here is previously published, but there are several in each category which are original to this collection. Many of the stories are quite difficult to find and many were new to me in any form. One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging.  It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting.  Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away.  I can only recall a few times where I've read a collection (or anthology) straight through from cover to cover.  This one I did. I even re-read the stories which I had read before.

I'm not normally a huge reader of poetry but the included poems (they're interspersed with the story notes) were lyrical and beautifully written and engaging and so precisely put together that it was a pleasure. 

The collection also includes an erudite and interesting introduction by Brandon Sanderson, which is worth a look.

A worthwhile collection for Yolen fans, readers of fantasy and speculative fiction, and folks who just appreciate well written prose. She's a master writer with a prodigious oeuvre and these are some of her best. 

Five stars. Just gorgeous.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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