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Friday, 20 February 2015

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book cover from Goodreads
Blurb (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 Reves", 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, hand in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

What did I think?
This was one of my favourite reads for 2014 and deservedly so. I loved this book. I loved it so much I bought a physical copy as well (I read this on my Kindle).

I have to admit it was really slow going in the beginning and it may not be for everyone. Erin Morgenstern however has a great writing prose that is able to completely transport you to another place. She has this wonderful way of igniting nearly all your senses - sight, sound and smell - so that you really do feel like you're at Le Cirque des Reves. I became so totally immersed in the imagery, in the storyline.

"A show without an audience is nothing, after all. In the response of the audience, that is where the power of performance lives."

The story itself is set in the late 1800s to early 1900s.  The magic component of the book is probably what categorises it as fantasy but, if you were expecting magic along the lines of Harry Potter, this isn't quite the book you were looking for (not to say you may not like it!). I would describe the magic in this book as 'classical magic' - is there even such a thing? The magical duel and the magical circus are central aspects of the story but the characters are really what bring the story to life - they all so beautifully fit into the fold of the story, from the enigmatic Chandresh to the lively twins Poppet and Widget. I read somewhere (can't remember where - sorry ): !) that earlier versions of the book had only one central character (Marco, I think). I really cannot envision this book without both Marco and Celia - they are both integral main characters and I'm so glad that they both feature in this published version.

If I do have a gripe, this doesn't work so well as an e-book. The book often transitions back and forth between the 'past' and the 'present'. On my Kindle, this made my reading this book difficult as it wasn't as easy a task for me to flip back to revisit certain chapters. Hence why I bought a physical copy (meaning that I do plan to re-read this one day). 

Recommendation
I give this book 5 Goofys! 

It is a beautifully written novel. If you like a bit of Victorian England, circuses and magic, this is the book for you. But please please please, if the first few chapters feel a bit slow to your liking, please please please persist, because it does deliver in the end.

**I read this book as part of the Sword and Laser December 2014 book pick. This review has also been profiled on Goodreads.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely review! I read this book back when it first came out in 2011 so my memory of all the details in it are somewhat fuzzy but I definitely remember loving this book. I really need to reread it at some point but my TBR pile has gotten almost too large to handle. I do agree that The Night Circus is slow in the beginning but the middle to end is just so beautifully written and amazing.

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