Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Genre: historical fantasy
Pages: 387 (paperback)
Published: September 2011 by Doubleday

Synopsis (from Goodreads): The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead. 

My Take: 
The Night Circus is like a mesmerizing performance written in short acts, chapters from different character perspectives and timelines which wind together to form a beautiful and intricate story.  The book itself has the feel of a very enchanting circus: along with the main show involving Celia and Marco, two young enchanters trained in two different schools of magic and made by their respective teachers to participate in a game to prove which is stronger, the reader is afforded brief glimpses into other circus tents. The subplots in this book are truly intriguing as well as relevant, and I'm discovering that some of the less-developed stories, like those belonging to the various circus performers and visitors,  are the ones which linger most potently in my mind.  I was captivated by the circus's mysterious contortionist, Tsukiko; by the tarot reader who helps to hold the fate of the circus in balance with a single card; by the German clockmaker who falls in love with the circus and becomes the first of its most ardent admirers, a reveur; and by the Murray twins, born on the circus's opening night and forever bound up in its web of magic and secrets.

This was a novel right up my alley in many ways: the Victorian elements paired with the subtle romance, a cast of characters with ambiguous motives and hidden depths, and of course, the magic.  It's so rare that a reader can become completely immersed in a fictional setting, but this is one of those unique books which helps us accomplish it.  Reading this spectacular novel, I can imagine with perfectly clarity what it would be like to walk down the chilly, winding roads of the Night Circus wrapped in a Victorian overcoat and a woolen red scarf, passing by black and white-striped tents and breathing in the scents of bonfires and caramel popcorn.  There are so few books with settings as lucid and characters as fully-realized as that of The Night Circus that I would be hard-pressed to come up with more than a couple more-- Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series as that kind of this-could-be-a-real-place feel, and maybe Narnia.  To successfully endow a book with that quality of perfect seamless immersive-ness is a kind of literary magic, the ultimate achievement in any genre, but particularly in fantasy.  I really wish there were more books in the world as beautifully-written and complex, yet sweet and simply intriguing, as this one.

My rating:


Annette said...

Loved this book too. And I'm loving The Diviners. It has the lucid settings and fully realized characters like Night Circus. Different story but kind of the same epic feel. Great writing, of course.

Ruperto Prieto said...

My friend Nina also told me that this book was fantastic. I guess I'll put this one on my upcoming Christmas book wish list that I do every year. Hehehe. Awesome review! =D

Kat said...

@Ruperto-- YES, it is almost time for Christmas book wish lists. (I make one every year, too!) Definitely do include the Night Circus; I think you'll love it. Anyway, it's great to hear from an old follower (actually, two old followers-- yay!)

Rebecca said...

I want to read The Night Circus so badly. I own it and it keeps getting pushed back. Everyone seems to love it :)

Rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

@Rebecca-- Ooh, do try to move it to the top of your tbr! I confess I got my copy for Christmas last year and only recently got around to reading it, but now I'm so glad I did. Hope you like it. :)

Maria Behar said...

Hey, Kat!!!

Oh, it's SO good to have you back, and with such a GORGEOUS new header for your blog, too!!!

As usual, you have given us readers a beautifully-written review, with very incisive views of the book in question! I LOVE the way you write!! Your style is just so well-constructed, your choice of words a total delight, your descriptions SO vivid! Needless to say, you've always been one of my favorite reviewers!!

This book is on my TBR list, but sadly, I haven't gotten to it yet... It sounds absolutely wonderful!! Your description of it makes me even more anxious to read it!!

Thanks for such a terrific review!! : )

Kat said...

@Maria-- Thank you so much for your wonderful compliments, Maria! Your writing style is one of the reasons I so enjoy reading your blog, too-- we can both be a little wordy, but more power to us and descriptive writing, I say!

I hope you do get to read the Night Circus, because I think you would really enjoy it and could do wonders with reviewing it. :)

PS-- so glad you like the header. I'm still not completely sold on it, but it's definitely here to stay for now. I WANT a library like that one so badly!

Allison said...

This is a wonderful review! You really made me think back and revel in all the beautiful moments of the story. SUCH a fabulous read.

Maria Behar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maria Behar said...

(I deleted the previous comment because of typos...)

Hey, Kat!!

Oh, you're very welcome for the compliments!! You richly deserve them!! And it's great that we enjoy each other's writing styles; I think we're kindred spirits. I LOVE being 'wordy' and descriptive, like you. I agree -- more power to us!! Thanks for complimenting me in return!!!

As for this book, I know I'll really enjoy it, and will definitely knock myself out writing the review. I featured the cover on one of my Shelf Candy Saturday posts, some time back.

And now the header -- yes, I do wish there were some color in it, but still, I like it a LOT!!! You should see one of the walls in my living room -- it's all covered in books!! I don't have any ladders, though. Maybe I'll put them on my list the next time I go to Home : )

Loraine said...

Hi, cool review! Here's mine if you don't mind:

Thanks and have a very nice day! :)

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