Cover of The Midnight CIrcus by Jane Yolen

Midnight Circus

Tachyon Publications (October 1, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1616963409
ISBN-13: 978- 1616963408

The third of my series of short stories (and poems in the back matter) collections is MIDNIGHT CIRCUS, for Tachyon Books. It follows the arc of the other two. But these are my dark stories. Who knew I had done so many!

As I looked through what I had, I discovered stuff I had long forgotten, and also discovered the fact that some of my scary stories had been in a YEAR’S BEST HORROR collection. I was truly surprised, Perhaps, as the author of three YA Holocaust novels, I shouldn’t have been. But there it was…

I do not think of myself as a truly dark slasher-type writer, but more the frisson of terror kind of writer when (if) I write horror fiction. As, it turns out, I do!

Other collections in this series:

The Emerald Circus: 2018 World Fantasy Award winner
How to Fracture a Fairy Tale: 2019 Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award

What reviewers have said:

  • “Jane Yolen is, simply, a legend. The powerful fairy godmother of every writer working in mythic fantasy today. In these dark and wonderful stories, that legend proves itself true over and over again, a sure hand pulling aside black and gauzy curtains to reveal a blaze of genius that will light up all the secret places of your heart.”―Catherynne M. Valente, author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own
  • “Look this way, look that; blazing her consummate imagination against the shadows of human sorrow, Jane Yolen has done it again. She has produced a set of spectacles designed to keep us awake in the darkness. The Midnight Circus delights, confounds, and challenges. We read all the night long; we are not the same come dawn.”―Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
  • “Yolen is often dubbed “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” but that should not be misunderstood. Her work is not Andersen Americanized: sanitized, watered-down, Disney-fied. It is true to the real tradition of Andersen: mesmerizing, haunting, and often not for the faint of heart. This collection teems with Yolen’s weird, folkloric verve. Her menagerie of stories is distilled from a cauldron of fairytales, legends, and history, featuring everything from selkies to shapeshifters; witches, weavers, and warriors; and angels murderous to ravenous. Her foreword and endnotes offer additional context for the work, creating a satisfying — if often unsettling — reading experience.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
  • The Midnight Circus sings with magic, darkness, and wonder–perfect for anyone who has ever loved a fairy tale. Thrilling and chilling all at once, this collection of stories will keep you riveted long after your bedtime, no matter your age. This is exactly the kind of dark, lovely book to keep close to one’s heart while facing down darkness in the wider world.”―Meagan Spooner, author of Hunted
  • “A girl uses magic to call her love but not to keep him. A child born in winter hears voices calling to him in the cold wind. A lonely man falls for a selkie who sings an enticing song. Yolen often uses the language and imagery of fairy tales to weave her original, spellbinding stories, which make a cohesive collection. They’re all dark, though in most cases, that darkness encompasses loss but doesn’t revel in it. As Yolen puts it in her introduction, there’s “a frisson of terror rather than massive amounts of spilt blood.” A couple of stories veer closer to true horror: The main character of “Great Gray” is drawn to the rare owls of the title because of his own predatory instincts, and the narrator of “Little Red” endures hinted-at torments because the alternative of returning home to her grandmother is somehow worse. But, as promised, there’s very little blood in these pages―just glimpses of the darkness of human nature. Some stories, like “Inscription,” read like Celtic folktales while “Requiem Antarctica” is a Jamesian tale of creeping madness at the ends of the Earth, and “An Infestation of Angels” is a retelling of the book of Exodus. And if the stories themselves somehow aren’t enough, each is accompanied by a poem that extends its themes into evocative verse. Haunting stories from a modern master.”―Kirkus
  • “These stories are meant to be savored, a few at a time.”—Hooked on Bookz
  • “Definitely some real gems in here. I’m giving it five stars overall if only because the Antartica story and Dog boy are easily shining stars that make this whole anthology worth reading.”—Epic Stitching
  • “Nebula Award winner Yolen follows How to Fracture a Fairy Tale with another, slightly more sinister collection of delightfully dark fairy tales. Each of the 16 stories is coupled with a companion poem and fascinating story notes that allow readers to delve into Yolen’s magical worlds . . . Yolen’s many fans will be thrilled to find her largely true to form. This collection is a gift for fairy tale lovers.”―Publishers Weekly
  • “Each deliciously spooky tale in Jane Yolen’s Midnight Circus draws readers into fully realized worlds with strong characters who reflect the strengths―and the darkness―in all of us. She mixes storytelling styles to excellent effect, from disturbing folklore to futuristic shapeshifting, grounding them in history and legend, so they are at once familiar and utterly, terrifyingly alien. I love Jane’s storytelling EVEN WHEN IT GIVES ME NIGHTMARES. These short pieces are can’t-put-down, and they will absolutely make you shiver like someone is walking across your grave.”―Susan Vaught, author of Trigger and Freaks Like Us
  • “Jane Yolen’s stories are pure magic! They draw you in, beguile your senses, and paint the world in richer hues than you’ve ever seen. Her tales will haunt you in the very best way. I loved every word!”―Sarah Beth Durst, author of Race the Sands
  • “Although these stories are “fairytales” they are not children’s stories, they are fairytales for grown ups, or mature teens, and I can’t wait to rave about it to anyone who will listen.” —Katy Writes About
  • “5/5 stars. A wonderful collection of short stories! Each one is its own self-contained story that is just perfection.”―Ash & Books
  • “Overall, this is a wonderful collection of tales that is perfect for sitting around the campfire or for a fun fall or winter read (definitely Halloween worthy)!”―Fantastically Bookish
  • The Midnight Circus explores an unexpected aspect of a beloved author and reminds us why Yolen’s writing means so much to us . . . essential reading for all fans of Yolen’s work, especially those who are less familiar with the darker side of her imagination.”―The Fantasy Hive
  • “A master writer with a prodigious oeuvre and these are some of her best dark stories.”—Nonstop Reader
  • “These stories chilled me to the bone, and I loved every minute!”―YA Lit Ramblings
  • “Jane Yolen is the queen of the fairy tale genre and this collection of her previously published stories had everything I have come to expect from a master storyteller.”―Sloth Reads
  • “Each story is a brilliant fairy tale with a rhyme and reason.”―Haunted by Deadlines
  • “Every story is excellent. I didn’t want to stop reading.”―Paperblog