Monday, 26 November 2012
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I have heard so much about this book in the past several months, but for some reason I just let it sit on my shelf unread. Why did I do that!? It was nothing short of magical! I suppose it's because there has been a lot of hype around this book. I didn't want to start reading and wonder why everyone else thinks it's so good. Instead, it has become my favorite book EVER!
When I first chose this book for my read-a-thon, I wondered if it woas truly be about real magic. I say real magic because the main characters are "illusionists" who do sleight of hand magic. Or that's what they want the public to believe. Actually they are exceptionally talented magicians, very similar to wizards. Celia is the daughter of a famous magician and Marco is an orphan that was chosen by the magician's rival. The two are trained for years then forced to participate in a magical challenge with the Le Cirque des Rêves (Circus of Dreams) as their arena. What they don't know is the rules of the challenge, that they are bound to the circus, and the challenge itself. There can only be one winner and when they fall in love, it complicates matters tremendously. As their competition grows more and more complicated and dangerous, they realize that the circus itself and its many employees are in danger as well.
There are many characters and subplots in this story, but what's most fascinating is the night circus itself. I'm usually not a person who enjoys descriptions of settings, but the circus isn't just a setting, it's a character. The entire story takes place in the Victorian times of 1873 - 1903. This is a time period that I absolutely adore. After reading the book, I just can't imagine the night circus being in any other time period. Also there are elements of steampunk in the book!
Erin Morgenstern is a very gifted writer and describes things of dreams. I am stunned at how she can take such a fantastical image but describe in such detail that it becomes something easily seen in my head. She uses every sense, making the circus come alive by describing sights, sounds, textures, tastes, and smells. She makes Le Cirque des Rêves so breathtaking. I want to go to The Night Circus!
Here are a few of my favorite passages:
"Because everything requires energy...We must put in effort and energy into anything we wish to change." pg 20
"A label assigned to identify you either by this institution or your departed parents is neither of interest or value to me. If you find you are in need of a name at any point, you may choose one for yourself." pg 23
"Secrets have power," Widget begins, "And that power diminishes when they are shared...Writing them down is worse...This is, in part, why there is less magic in the world today. Magic is secrets and secrets is magic, after all...Writing it down in fancy books that get all dusty with age has lessened it, removed its power bit by bit. It was inevitable, perhaps, but not unavoidable." pg 173
The Night Circus is a book that I will want to reread again and again. I find very few books are like this. I would love to see The Night Circus made into a movie, but it would have an incredibly high standard to live up to. I do admit the entire book is in the flavor of the Harry Potter books yet uniquely different.
I do have a couple minor gripes. I wish we had gotten to know Celia and Marco better while they are in training. They are a bit cardboard like at first, but do eventually become very vibrant and complete characters. My second, is that sometimes entire years are skimmed over. I am particularly confused on how a year suddenly passed after a specific minor characters death. I'd explain more but I don't want to give away spoilers.
I gave it a rare