Thoughts: The Scarlet Circus by Jane Yolen

Source: Netgalley – Thank you to the publisher!!
TL;DR: A short collection of shorts all around the idea of love that feel very much fairy tale like and classic in style.

Plot: Each story is incredibly short with traditional almost fairy tale plots – save the village from the dragon, the princess, etc.
Characters: I sadly won’t remember them besides the impressions of the standard whimsical character template.
Setting: Varied though mostly fantasy based in some way
Magic: Vague and there, like most whimsy or fairy tales.


The Scarlet Circus by Jane Yolen is a short collection of some of short stories all focusing in on the idea of ‘romance’. She explains in the introduction to the collection that her idea of ‘romance’ in these stories may be more of the classical sense than the modern but all the stories have some sort of romantic bent to them. 

Each story does feel classical and like a sort of whimsical fairy tale. Mrs. Yolen’s writing style has always been that sort of classic fantasy style, and she leans into poetry as well as several poems fill the back of this book. The style is wonderful and I love the cadence and lyricism in each story. However, I do struggle to remember much of the book and I finished it two days ago? They are short, very short and it does the stories a disservice in the long run for me. 

I did very much enjoy the different representations of romance, mainly because they felt like stories I would have read 10 or 15 years ago as a kid digging through the back of the library. Whimsical, with profound meanings buried in casual conversations. I will also say that there were a few parts I found… off-putting in tone or representation? I was unsure where to put my finger on it exactly but it did make me squint my eyes a few times and pull me away from the stories. 

Overall this was a very short collection of whimsical, romantic tales. I’d recommend this one if you love quick and bite sized stories that won’t take long to consume and won’t linger afterwards. I would especially recommend this for fans of Jane Yolen. New fans might be better suited to another collection, as this might not be a great introduction, but it’s definitely one to watch for if you like the sound of it. 


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