Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on my short perusal of the other reviews on Goodreads, this is one book that you will either really like or really dislike - not too many in-the-middles. I would give it 4.5 stars, if able. I doubt I will stop thinking about it for a while, and I want to read it again, soon, to catch things I missed, to revel in the story without the mystery.

It is not an action-filled magical romp; there is no heart-pounding suspense. It is a story that takes time to unfold, and for much of the book you will be slightly confused about what just happened, or why it was important. The dates at the beginning of each chapter are very important to following the flow.

I do think that some of the dislike from other readers comes from disappointment that they got a different book that they expected from the descriptions. Some of the marketing around the book makes this sound like it will be a circus-centered Harry Potter or a Victorian Lev Grossman-style post-modern take on the magical adventure, with some Romeo and Juliet action as well. It is not. The magical contest that sets events in motion is never clearly defined, for the reader or the two main participants. It is not explosions and obvious displays of power. That vagueness continues through much of the book, clouded in a dream-like state and mystery. If you are expecting magical duels of the Harry Potter sort, you will need to look elsewhere. It is not that sort of book.

However, if you are interested in dreams, and the power of stories, and the way both unfold and change with the telling, you may like this. It is also about obsession and love, and friendship, and, of course, the circus.

Not for everyone, I do realize, and I don't know if I would actively push it on any of my friends - in part because I wouldn't want to tarnish it for myself if they didn't like it - but I do recommend you at least give it a try.

All in all, I am very happy that I won a copy of this in a Twitter contest, so I don't have to wait for it at the library, and I have it around to read again, when I get a chance.

View all my reviews

In other news, Fall seem to finally be making an appearance here in Arkansas. On Monday, the temperature hovered near 90; yesterday it never got to 60, and it rained! After my trip to Seattle, where it felt just like Fall should (well, to me anyway), I was rather sad to have to return to the extended summer that had captured Arkansas, so I am pretty darn happy about this turn. 

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