23 February 2014

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I am not sure I can fully express how much I love this book. I shall give you the briefest of possible overviews as I truly feel this a story which must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Sometime in the late 1800s, two magicians once again make a wager. Each will train a young person of their choice in the craft, and at an unknown time and place, the two apprentices will match their skills in a competition, the details of which are very unclear. What is also unclear at this point are the stakes involved in this competition; although, the reader gets quite the sense of foreboding from the general aura of not-quite-nice emanating from the two elder magicians. So begins Celia and Marco's training... and romance.

The story is populated with memorable, distinctive characters. The twins Poppet and Widget, the mysterious contortionist Tsukiko, the simple yet powerful Isobel, all the constructors of the circus, the wonderfully wonderful clockmaker, and of course, the competitors Marco and Celia, all of the characters captured my imagination. I just wish I knew more of them.

While the characters in this novel - of which there are many - are some of the most unique, intriguing, complex, and eccentric characters I have ever read, what really steals the show in this novel is the setting: Le Cirque de Reves, the circus of dreams, a living stage for a competition between two gifted illusionists. The circus breathes with a life of its own and rarely have I read a novel where setting played such a vital, emotive role in the story.

This is not your typical circus. Both the magical and the non-magical elements are extraordinary, from the extravagent tents to the savory food to the clock at the entrance to the black and white theme. The circus appeals to all of the senses, and Morgenstern skillfully allows readers to experience these sensations through her masterful writing.

So many disparate elements are woven into this story: a double handful of plot lines, a whole mess of characters, a setting so complex I believe an entire book could be written just describing the various aspects. And yet, it is all put together so perfectly creating an absolutely breathtaking read.

I'm willing to bet I am one of the last to read this, but if by some chance, you have not yet had the opportunity to do so, go now. Go now and buy a copy - for this is one you will want to keep and revisit time and time again.

20 comments:

  1. I just bought this one a month ago at the local used bookstore. I look forward to diving into it when I get a chance!

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  2. All I have to see is either "magician" or "circus" and I'm out of there! (and this book has both!) :--)

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    1. It's good to know what you like and what you don't. :)

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  3. Absolutely amazing book! I'm so glad I read it three years ago. It's become a tradition to read it or listen to it on audio (which is just as good, if not better!) every fall.

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    1. I can totally see how this book would work with audio. I may have to try that next time.

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  4. I really loved this one too. I just never wanted it to end. I bought a copy so I can reread it, so hopefully this year? It's been two years since I read it last.

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    1. I was so sad when it was over; I even was thinking of ways a sequel could work.

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  5. I really enjoyed this book when I read it years ago. Looking at Amanda's comment, I think I'll buy a copy and read it in the fall. Glad you enjoyed this one as much as the rest of us did.

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  6. Agreed--this book certainly has its detractors, but for those of us who connected with the book, its whimsy, visual imagination, and dream-like qualities make it quite memorable.

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    1. Memorable is a good word to describe this one; all of the sensory details definitely help keep the world in my brain.

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  7. Yes, I loved this too. It's a wonderful, magical story. Very special.

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    1. Definitely magical - and in such a deep, dreamy sort of way.

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  8. I'm sooooo glad you loooved it!!! <--sing-song

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  9. I'm so glad you loved this one! Also, you've reminded me how badly I want to reread it!

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    1. I am actually forcing myself to not re-read it until at least summer.

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  10. I loved this one, too. The descriptions were so fantastic and really let you see and feel and smell the circus. That made the lack of character development really not matter to me.

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    1. Exactly. I wanted to know more about the characters, but the circus itself was such a fascinating character I wasn't too upset.

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