Saturday, December 24, 2011

The circus is in town

Much has been said about Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus. You can't miss it, it's all over the place these days. And so I found myself in a bookstore doing some last-minute shopping when I thought, heck, why not get just one book for myself.

I've always loved the circus, and I found the paper cutout elements of the cover quite amusing. So off I went to the register with several books in my arms, including this novel which I do hope is really worth the hype.

Fortunately, The Night Circus is one very enjoyable and well-written novel. Morgenstern's story may appear derivative to some (i.e., elements of Cirque du Freak, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell), but the novel's storyline holds water on its own. Aside from the author's apparent talent for describing setting vividly, Morgenstern does a great job in coming up with the most eccentric characters in fiction that I've read recently.

The novel is, at its heart, a love story. It's a romantic tale between two people (Cecilia and Marco) who have been trained in illusion, and tangible and mental manipulation. Unfortunately, they have been pitted against each other by their masters, and their masters have chosen a circus as the arena. To complicate things further, Cecilia and Marco both fell in love with one another much to the chagrin of their mentors. They soon learn that, by the end of the game, only one will emerge alive.

Morgenstern's novel works in so many levels that it would appeal to a wide range of readers. First, the love story between the protagonists would appeal to fans of romantic fiction. Fantasy readers will definitely love the scenes where magic plays a central role. The Night Circus's air of mystery and motley of performers will delight readers of all ages.

I was surprised that, with all the elements that Morgenstern brings into the novel, the story isn't a mess, with the subplots flying all over the place. The writing is very controlled, but the pace of the novel is oh so deliciously taxi meter. I loved this circus. I sure hope you find the time to step inside and see the wonders waiting for you, dear reader, underneath the striped tents of the night circus.

Read this book if:
  1. You're big on circuses.
  2. You love outstanding debut fiction.
  3. You believe that true magic really exists.


Jack said...

Greetings from the other rim. Doing a little blogsurfing, and got dropped in here, and am I glad I did. I enjoy your insightful commentary, but more than that, I'm a big Drizzt Do'Urden fan. It's taken me 5 years, but I have finally caught up, reading all 21 books to date. I've been looking for something to fill the void, and your review of Mistborn has caught my attention. I'm going to give it a try, based on your recommendation, and thanks in advance for putting it out there!

Keep up the good work; you're doing a real service here!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Jack! Thanks for dropping by!

Jack said...

Merry Christmas to all my blogfriends old and new, everyone you follow, and those who follow you. May the coming year bring health, comfort, happiness, and more fun than you thought was possible! Looking forward to many more pleasant exchanges, I remain your humble servant,

- Jack "The Hammer" Tyler

Peter S. said...

Merry Christmas, Jack.

fantaghiro23 said...

Hey, Peter! Just finished this book. It was my first read for the year. Liked it, too. Did you get the feeling that, inspite of the setting, everything felt contemporary?Such as the focus on design and the fandom of the reveurs?

Peter S. said...

Hi, Honey! Oh, yes, I felt that vibe too!