Monday, October 17, 2011

Review: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publish date: September 2011
Source: Purchased
"Opens at Nightfall; Closes at Dawn." The Le Cirque des RĂªves is a circus unlike any other, just as this magical debut novel is equally unique. At the center of The Night Circus spectacle are two specially gifted young magicians, Celia and Marco, pitted against each other in professional competition, drawn towards one another in love. Erin Morgenstern's literary fantasy has already drawn raves for its captivating evocativeness: "A world of almost unbearable beauty.... A love story on a grand scale: it creates, it destroys, it ultimately transcends." "A novel so magical that there is no escaping its spell... If you choose to read just one novel this year, this is it.""

This novel, Ms. Morgenstern's first, is unlike anything I have ever read before. I feel like I will never be done sorting out my feelings about it, but in a good way. I had heard only good things about it, so I figured I would just get the book and read it instead of waiting for it at the library. It actually ended up being a gift and I read it over a few days (and will be rereading at some point).

The prose in this book is some of the most beautiful I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I often found myself stopping while reading to go back and reread because the writing was just that wonderful. (Sidenote: I NEVER do that.) Ms. Morgenstern's way with words is just incredible. I could only ever hope to write half as well as she does. I think I would have finished the book more quickly if the writing itself wasn't so beautiful (and I am not one to gush about prose like this).

Let's talk about imagery, shall we? This novel is just FULL of imagery and in the best way possible. With all the descriptions, I could really feel like I was there at the circus or any of the other settings that are in the novel. If you are someone who teaches craft or wants to learn how to employ great imagery, read this book! I was continually amazed at how she showed us her fantastic world.

The plot was confusing at times, I will readily admit that. There are a multitude of main characters and the chapters alternate narration between many of them, but I thought the different points of view really added more depth to the story. The chapters also take place during different time periods, which could add to the confusion, but each was labeled with a time and place at the beginning. That said, the chapters were all fairly short, which was nice and really helped with pacing. 

There is a romance within the story, but it doesn't overpower the plot, which can easily happen in so many other books. I really liked how it just slowly built over time. It, like the writing, was lovely. I thought the two (trying to avoid spoilers) were great characters by themselves and the romance just made me like them more. 

I don't think my review is really doing this book the justice it deserves. I didn't necessarily enjoy the book for its plot, even though it was magical and very creative. I really liked it more for its actual writing, for the world I was easily able to imagine because of, again, the excellent writing. It may start off a bit slowly, but it grows and grows until the end hits you and, like me, you'll want to reread immediately.

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