May 19, 2012

Review: The Night Circus

By: Erin Morgenstern
Published: September 2011 by DoubleDay
Format: Hardback, 387 pages
First Reviewed: October 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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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 Rêves, 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.

Rating: 5/5

Remember how I've said I hate going to author signings? Maybe not, but I said that because every one I've been to, I've been either slightly or majorly disappointed in the book(s) because I'd fall in love with the authors and want to love their books, too. However, I'm happy to say, in this case, the book lived up to the amazingness that is Erin Morgenstern. I'm serious; Morgenstern is fantastic in many different ways, and I crossed my fingers, hoping so bad that her writing and story-telling was as stunning as her creativity and imagination clearly were. Were they? Yes. Absolutely freaking yes!

So, I went into this book knowing how many years Morgenstern spent working on this, and I found myself internally cheering, as those years and gazillion drafts paid off. More than paid off. Morgenstern's voice in this was breathtaking. It carried a certain air throughout, tossing a blanket of mystifying ambience over me every time I sat down to read.

My only complaint was that I sometimes found myself getting a tad confused on where we were timeline-wise, as the story jumps back and forth through different years. But honestly, that's my only nitpick. Morgenstern just had a sense of magic to her writing, which only brought out the story magic even more. I loved her stylistic choices and setup, and once I got past some of the confusing jumps, they became so natural and perfectly placed.

She also gave different, period-perfect voices to the characters, and I loved having all of the different accents and dialects in my head. Oh, and how can I not mention her descriptions? Come on! I don't remember the last time--if ever--that I literally said, "Man, that sounds delicious" when an author would describe food. And very few books make me smell things. Just...gorgeous, beautiful writing and story-telling, with lines I have a feeling will be quoted for years and years. That's all I can really say.

Loveeeed them. It's hard to believe the main character, Celia, wasn't even in the initial drafts of this. She was my favorite, though it's hard to pick favorites with this. Still, I loved her. She carried that womanly strength all us girls love to see in lead characters. Not that "clearly trying to be a takes-care-of-herself-can-fight-or-whatever" type of strong. I mean inwardly. She dealt with a lot, complaining only when appropriate, and only cared about others before finally finding herself. Beautiful characterization with her, I thought.

And she's not the only one. Morgenstern had beautiful characterization as a whole. Giving us love/hate relationships with a few of them and only love for others. Even a character or two I wanted to smack on occasions. Poppet and Widget were perfect additions. I absolutely loved them and their relationship with one another and also with Bailey. I could sit here and mention all of the characters, but I won't. Just know that I felt for them all when Morgenstern wanted me to. And with all these characters, that wasn't easy to do.

But what I loved the most was that they all had some kind of strength inside, whether they were aware of it or not. While others who thought they were nothing but strength, or only displayed that, carried weaknesses. I can tell a lot of thought went into these characters, each and every one of them.

Creative. Imaginative. Stunning. Beautifully told. Amazingly paced. Unique and original. Breathtaking. Lovely. So full of all things dark and light that everyone deals with inside, the happiness and sadness. Just magical. I'm tempted to leave it at that.

When I heard of this book, I had mixed feelings about it. Whether or not I should read it, as it was hyped up and I just thought it would have been one of those "good-sounding premise, but poor execution" ordeals. But it was anything but. In all honesty, it surpassed my expectations. I was just so thoroughly engrossed from start to finish. If I had had a day all to myself, I would have read this through in its entirety.

It's a slower read, but not in a bad way. In the way that the writing and story-telling grabs you so much that you just want to savor every word. While with most books, I can speed-read and understand, with this, I wanted to take it all in. Morgenstern crafted this in such a way that I couldn't put it down. At night, even though I knew I needed to get some sleep, I'd keep telling myself I could get in another chapter, another chapter, just one more. This was just one of those books where the magic grabs you, where there's no other book like it. And it's one I can't wait to re-read.

Other: One of the things I most appreciate about this book was how clean it was. Sure, there's some romance, and it's the kind that made my heart flutter, but it's subtle and beautiful and not bogged down by unnecessary scenes and intimate moments. And there wasn't any terrible language. I think "slut" is used once, but I can't even recall seeing a curse word. Morgenstern didn't need that mess to convey the ups and downs of this story. Oh, and might I mention how dizzy the stripes on the book make me?

To end, excuse the language, it's necessary: This was just damn good. A new, long-time favorite. And ahem, so, they're making a Night Circus tarot deck with Morgentstern's paintings (she's an incredible artist too, you guys; aren't you jealous?!), and I'm so getting it...whenever it's done. Anyway, this was just amazing. Stunning, breathtaking, beautifully written and told. I couldn't put it down and I didn't want to leave this world Morgenstern created. Frankly, I can only say that I highly, highly recommend this book. Simply magical. Bon Rêves.

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