Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus brings several adjectives to mind. Unique, creative, beautiful. I believe the setting and the “magical” elements are what make this book special.

There are many characters, but it is never confusing. We are introduced to Marco, an orphan that has been adopted by Alexander, who is training him and preparing him for a contest. Then, there is Celia, whose father, Prospero, is an illusionist, and he is training Celia. The magic that these two are practicing isn’t really magic. It’s real. These characters have the ability to really manipulate one’s perception of reality. It’s quite fascinating.

Then there’s the circus. La Cirque des Reves, a circus like no other. It opens at dusk and closes at dawn. I loved reading about the circus—I never got tired of experiencing all of the events that were described. I wish I could find a circus like that! The circus becomes the venue for this unusual contest between Marco and Celia.

Bailey, a young boy, is another main character. He falls in love with the circus, and becomes friends with the child performers, Poppet and  Widget. He has a big part to play, but his role us unclear for most of the book.

Morgenstern uses many different perspectives – there’s Frederick the clock maker and one of the circus’ biggest fans, Tsukiko the contortionist, Isobel the fortune teller, Mme. Pavda who makes the costumes, and many others. They all have interesting story lines, but it is very difficult to tell where the story is heading and how this will all end up tying together. It’s masterfully done.

While I enjoyed the characters, they weren’t the strongest element of this story. The setting and slow exposition of the plot were the parts that drew me in. The magical elements were unusually creative.  You do need to pay attention to the dates, because there is a bit of jumping around. The ending was fine. It was suitable; but for me the journey was much more enjoyable than the finish.

The only minor complaint is that every once in a while, we are exposed to a page or two written in the second person as if we are at the circus. These sections were very abrupt, took me out of the story, and did not contribute to the progression of the plot. I would much rather read about Bailey’s trips through the circus than these weirdly inserted asides.

This one is for those of us who enjoy a richly designed story. One that meanders, and keeps you wondering. There isn’t much action, but the plot is steady and compels one to keep reading. I really enjoyed my time spent with this book.

Published by Doubleday, September 13, 2011
ARC ebook obtained from NetGalley for review
400 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4.5/5

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  1. Ooh, yours is the second amazing review I've read for this book. It sounds so different than what I usually read...definitely going to have to add it to my list! But what is it with second person that's so jarring? I recently read a book with that in it and it Didn't like it at all.
    Mary @ BookSwarm

  2. Great review! I loved reading about the circus too, it was so fascinating. The magic and setting were definitely the strongest aspects to TNC :)


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