The circus at the heart of this tragically beautiful collection of stories by Michael Chin, led by a tortured ringmaster, filled with performers bound together by the tenuous common thread of having nowhere else to run, is not the glitz and glamour big top you might expect, but rather a dark, mystical place where you go to forget and be forgotten—a circus traveling out of necessity more than anything else. At times reminiscent of Bradbury and Matheson, Circus Folk draws you into a vivid world that will haunt you in the best way.


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Edgy and tender, Michael Chin's Circus Folk will captivate you by the way it flirts with our darkest fears and most passionate dreams. Chin's collection of outcast artists will thrill and distress you—from the complex and vulnerable Ringmaster and his untamable lion to the one of the most genuinely disturbing clowns you'll ever meet. Circus Folk describes a world composed of all-too-human magic and danger. Open the frayed velvet curtains with care, and step over the threshold into the oldest show on earth.

—Marjorie Sandor, author of Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime and editor of The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows

In Circus Folk, Michael Chin has devised an entire amazing world. This circus isn't the circus of your childhood with a malnourished elephant and sad horses running in circles. This is the circus you dreamed of visiting, one filled with enchantment and desire and danger and beauty. The characters and their acts are real, and so is the magic Chin has created with this book.

—Cathy Ulrich, author of PGhosts of You

Circus Folk interweaves the tales of bearded ladies, conjoined twins, a voiceless ringmaster, and a damaged clown to name a few. Amidst the surreal and often dark backdrop of a traveling circus, Michael Chin's characters reveal real truths about losing and reclaiming power, taming our inner lions or fears, and coming to terms with devastating heartbreaks. Yet despite the book's serious themes, it's laugh-aloud funny. Circus Folk is an immersive read by an exciting new talent.

—Michelle Brafman, author of Washing the Dead and Bertrand Court