Friday, October 28, 2011
REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I wasn't quite sure whether this was the book for me but after seeing a few favorable reviews on it, I decided to give it a go and see what the fuss was all about. Although slow to get going (the story didn't really pick up until the first 80 pages or so) Celia and Marco's alternating story lines slowly pulled me in. Both spend years honing their abilities in preparation for this mysterious competition and both move steadily to what will be their assigned roles in the competition-Marco staying in London as an assistant for the circus and Celia travelling with it as an illusionist. The competition begins as Celia and Marco seek to out do each other by adding additional elements to the circus. When they meet sparks fly but how can they be together if they are competitors, especially after the true intent of the circus is revealed?
Reading about Les Cirque Des Rives in this book left me with the same feeling I had when seeing Mr. Wonka's chocolate factory come to life-it really is magical. Morgenstern is definitely not lacking in the imagination department. I found myself thinking I wish I could see this stuff for real every time a new circus attraction was revealed. The next best thing was conjuring what it would look like in my head which was easy to do given the author's wonderfully detailed descriptions. I also liked all of the characters involved as a bit of mystery surrounded each of them. With Isobelle the fortune teller, twins Widget and Poppet, and Tsukiko the contortionist to name a few, I kind of wish there was a separate book to follow each of their stories. I did find the competition between Marco and Celia being described as a duel to be misleading. Normally when you think of dueling magicians it is the wand wielding spell casting magical battle that comes to mind. This is more of a game/competition/exhibition then it is a duel.
The writing style is wonderful and the chapters are short so the point of view switches often. The time period does as well which left me a little lost at times, particularly the parts with the character Bailey who becomes an integral part of the story later on. I knew he had to be important somehow but I would be totally engrossed in the Marco/Celia narratives and then it would switch to 1902 with Bailey and until all the narratives converged it pulled me out of the story a bit each time it happened.
I liked the development of the Marco and Celia's romance but I was kind of annoyed by it as well. Liked because it was not overdone or flowery at all. Annoyed because it was Edward and Bella-esque in it's "we meet and....Boom! Electricity! Sparks! We're in love!" way that always irks me a bit. Why are they in love? Because he's hot and she's pretty and they can both do magic? What else drew these two together? I always hate when two characters meet and it's insta-love for no discernible reason. I like to see when they learn each others personalities and are slowly drawn together. Maybe this is why I have so much trouble with the romance angle in books.
I thought the author did a great job of pulling everything together at the end and despite my misgivings about the romance I really enjoyed the end of this book. I honestly don't think I've read book so unique and inventive in a really long time. Often times when a book gets so much attention I'll give in to see what the fuss was about and end up thinking it was ok but wondering what the big deal was. I definitely didn't feel that way here. This book was worth the read even with the minor issues I had with it and I will be reading more by this author in the future.
I borrowed this from the library