Monday, October 3, 2011

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is certainly creating some buzz lately. So, I was excited to receive a copy and see what all the talk was about.

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Le Cirque des Réves
(The Circus of Dreams)
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn."

But what visitors don't know is that the circus is a venue for a game. A game between two enigmatic magicians (although they are much more than simple magicians) of indeterminate age and otherworldly skills.  Each has chosen a player and trained them for many years. And now that the circus is open, the game begins. The young players, Celia and Marco, are not even sure of the rules, how a winner will be dictated or what the playing should even consist of. And so we follow the circus, the game and the lives of everyone touched by the magic.

Where Morgenstern absolutely excels is in imagination. She has conjured up fanciful, magical places and times. Her prose are rich and lush, painting very vivid images. I often found myself rereading these passages and imagining what one of the attractions would be like. For the attractions at the Cirque des Réves are unlike any other. Each tent contains an unfathomable wonder that you may have only dreamed of.

I loved the following imagery - books as both vehicle and voyage.

"When she opens her eyes, they are standing on the quarterdeck of a ship in the middle of the ocean.  Only the ship is made of books, it's sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink. They stand silently together as the ship drifts toward the endless horizon."

Where the book fell from a five to a four for me was in the pacing and character development. The first half of the book moved a little too slow for me. I did end up putting it down for a few days. When I picked it back up, the second half moved much faster, with more action and consequences happening.

Although Celia and Marco are the main protagonists, there are many, many others integral to The Night Circus. Celia and Marco remained for me attractions - I never became truly invested in their love story or struggles, despite the fairy tale feeling of it all.  I found myself drawn to many of the other players, especially Bailey. His character is more tangible and I was able to believe him in him more. This could simply reflect the pragmatic nature of this reader.

The Night Circus is a intriguing, inventive foray into a magical world that, deep down, every one of us wishes existed. A very strong debut novel. And a bit of a magical time for Morgenstern - movie rights to The Night Circus have been sold to Summit Entertainment - who also brought you the Twilight movies. It will interesting to see what movie magic can do to reproduce The Night Circus.

Read an excerpt of The Night Circus. Or listen to an excerpt. You can find Morgenstern on Twitter and on Facebook.


bermudaonion said...

Boy, is this book getting the buzz! I don't know if I want to read it now or wait for some of it to die down.

Luanne said...

You know Kathy - it was that way with The Help for me. Everybody and their brother has read the book and seen the movie but me!

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) said...

Oooooh, I'm loving all of the awesome thoughts on this! I have it but haven't gotten to it. Need to do that. Glad you liked it!

Aarti said...

Oh, I'm glad you didn't love this, either! I was the same way- just didn't love the characters and didn't think the plot was all that different than many other star-crossed lover stories. But beautiful imagery!

Canada said...

Wonderful book, great story, bit of fantasy, but so interesting keeps you going I loved this book and the story and all of the charachters. A must read wish it could go on forever.