Monday, November 28, 2011

The Night Circus: by Erin Morgenstern

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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. (Barnes & Noble overview)

I really enjoyed all of the characters along with the storyline, but this was a slow read for me.  I kept thinking it would pick up at some point, but it never did.  It contained a lot of very lengthy detailed descriptions, which at times were difficult to envision.  The tents and the circus with their black and white theme sounded beautiful, but I wished Morgenstern had spent more time on the characters and less time on the setting.

Another issue that I had with the book was the third person perspective.  There are chapters where she refers to the reader as "you" while you are watching or exploring a portion of the circus.  I felt like I was never really a part of the book.  I was always an outsider looking in.  If Morgenstern could have captured me and made me feel like I was part of the circus, I think it would have propelled the story along.  

On a more positive note, the few times when the main characters Celia and Marco were together, it was pure magic.   I absolutely flew through those sections and was left longing for more.  If only they would have spent the majority of the book together, I probably wouldn't have been able to put it down.  Unfortunately, I often had to wait 50 pages or more between each dose of excitement. 

I also really enjoyed the interaction between Bailey, Poppet, and Widget.  Poppet and Widget are twins who were born opening night of the circus.  Their parents are performers, so they grew up within the circus and are now performers themselves.  Bailey becomes enchanted by the circus when he is a boy and is destined to become a part of it.  When the circus comes back to Bailey's hometown, he becomes friends with the twins and we begin to experience more of the circus through their adventures. 

The love story, characters, and elements of magic are very enchanting, but for me The Night Circus lacked the spark needed to really capture the readers.  It is going to be made into a movie and it is being hyped as the next Harry Potter or Twilight.  If they are able to capture the detail and magic of the tents I think it will be a better movie than book, but I have a hard time believing it will draw anywhere near as much attention or revenue as Harry Potter or Twilight.


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