REVIEW: THE EMERALD CIRCUS

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THE EMERALD CIRCUS
JANE YOLEN
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: SHORT STORY COLLECTION, FANTASY, RETELLINGS
★★★

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Enter the Emerald Circus and be astonished by the transformations of your favorite tales. Ringmaster and internationally bestselling author Jane Yolen (Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Lightship) spins modern fantasy classics in tales that go well beyond Wonderland and Oz, down the rabbit hole and back again.

Where is Wendy? Leading a labor strike against the Lost Boys, of course!

It’s time to go back to—and beyond—the treasured tales you thought you knew: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and many more. Ringmaster and internationally bestselling author Jane Yolen (Briar Rose, Sister Emily’s Lightship) spins modern fantasy classics for delighted readers. A girl blown away from Kansas returns as a sophisticate with unusual gymnastic abilities. A talented apprentice, forging her first sword, is suddenly left to the mercies of Merlin. Alice’s infamous nemesis has jaws and claws, but also lacks the essential: a sense of humor.

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I’d never heard of Jane Yolen before I picked up this book but the description as “the Hans Christian Anderson of children’s literature” and the idea of quirky retellings (No surprise right?) had me sold.

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The stories themselves were a bit more hit-and-miss. While there were none that were truly bad, I found some a little dull. On the other hand, there were several I really enjoyed. There’s takes on Peter Pan, Robin Hood, Queen Victoria, Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Anderson himself. The top three I especially liked were:

Blown Away – I loved this take on The Wizard of Oz. Instead of Oz, Dorothy loses her memory when she is carried off by the tornado to a quirky circus. The ‘voice’ is so good in this and you can really feel that little Kansas town.

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Evian Steel – On the Isle of Women, an order of female blacksmiths forge the very best blades. The future Guinevere struggles to create Excalibur. In the notes, Yolen says that she had ideas of this as the middle act of a novel or as a trilogy of novellas. I would definitely read that if she ever writes it.

The Gift of the Magician – A sort of old-fashioned ‘story-with-a-moral’ and full of atmosphere. Struggling for money, Beauty tries to find a Christmas present for the Beast.

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Overall this collection was interesting, although some stories were better than others. It did intrigue me as to Yolen’s other work though, and I think I’d look up some of her other stories.

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