Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Night Circus

Book Review

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

This book was recommended to me by the library's web site.

Have you ever looked at your library's web site? I only started doing so fairly recently.

I found lists of what's new. And, of course, I found out what was on the shelf in my favorite local library.

But I also I found reviews. Like, a review of this book.

It sounded interesting.

And then, some weeks later, I was talking with two of the librarians in my favorite local library.

Do you ever do that? I highly recommend it. Especially when of them tells me that she isn't as well-read as I am.

Really? Is that possible? Me, better read than the librarian?

Maybe. Maybe not. Still, I was quite surprised when she said that. Especially since it is her job to read twenty young adult books in a month and a half. Or so she said.

Anyways, the other librarian suggested this book. I remembered that I had read a review.

It was a positive review.

The Night Circus

Here we have a book unlike any other I've ever read.  This is a story about magic.

Magic, as in the type performed by magicians.

But quickly a question arrises. Is it magic or sleight of hand?

Whichever it may be, it is presented in a special circus, one that is only open from sunset to sunrise, is presented completely in black, white and gray, and has no set schedule of any sort.

The imagery within in the circus is beautiful and truly magical, as only words can produce. The imagery alone is enough reason to read this book.

But there are other depths to be found. This is not just a circus, but a deadly competition. It also encompasses a love story. Our lovers are forever bound to the circus and must keep it operating.

This story is intriguing.

Unfortunately for me, I did not get a good start at reading the book. It starts with small vignettes of various characters, but none of these have much depth. Not yet. The unfortunate part is that I didn't have the time to dive straight into the book and get far enough along to remember the characters when they finally reappeared. This is probably not a problem for anyone who can start this book with undivided attention.

I did not have undivided attention.

Eventually, I was able to read enough to make the characters come together in my mind. This is good, because it paid off. The characters eventually weave together into a cohesive web that play off of each other. This is good.

The story is set in Victorian London, which makes the circus all the more interesting. This also presents a bit of difficulty. There are some inconsistencies in what the author presumes the visitors to the circus are willing to accept as entertainment. Magical things happen, but they are presented as circus acts. Yet, in this setting, around the turn of the twentieth century, there is no technology that would allow the guests of the circus to believe these things are possible. Guests are just accepting.

Maybe the Victorians were more ready to believe their eyes, attributed what they saw to actual magic, trusted in the effectiveness of sleight-of-hand and optical illusions, or maybe all of the above. If I went to such a circus today, I would catch myself trying to find explanations for what I saw. I would attribute these things to electronics or computers or lasers or some other advanced technology. Victorian Londoners would not have any reasonable explanations for such things.

This leads me to think there is a bit of inconsistency in the story. But this didn't bother me until after I finished the story. During my reading, I was blissfully playing along with the magnificence of the show.

I highly recommend this method of reading. Especially for this story.

Inconsistencies may exist, but the imagery is masterful. The characters are three dimensional and add much to the story.

This is a different kind of story, but worthy of your time.

Revel in the imagery. I did!

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