Monday, September 12, 2011

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern- Review

How I came by my copy of the The Night Circus is a testimony to what an incredibly wise move it was to bring the hubby to the BEA this year.  Despite the already large hype, I was completely unaware of what The Night Circus was or that it was primed to be one of the biggest releases of 2011.  However, in his wanderings of the floor, the hubby came upon a monstrous line up and thought- Hmm, this must be good, and got into it. So some time later, when he came by the autograph line I'd been sitting in forever, he handed me a copy of The Night Circus, signed by Erin herself, to the swoons and dismay of all those in line around me.  Sadly they did not have fab BEA hubbies getting them books while they waited in lines.

Unfortunately it sat gathering dust until a couple of weeks ago when I realized it was coming out right away and I should get down to business and read it already.  Ahh, how I regret sitting on it!

Two children, raised to be magical opponents in a mysterious night circus.  One fantastical circus which appears without warning and leaves the same way, only open between dusk and dawn and filled with the most awe inspiring things.  A plethora of players in the Circus as well as dedicated enthusiasts who are not only pawns in the competition but also the answer to its survival.  One boy who loves it so truly he alone might be able to save it when all else is lost.  One fierce battle that threatens to overwhelm everyone, willing participants or not. 
It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, will you join the enamoured group of Rêveurs?

The short answer, of course, is that I have.
I'm not sure what I expected, something more like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell I suppose, but this was far more exotic and fairy tale-ish.  Erin Morgenstern uses a very etheral 3rd person narrative to her advantage in The Night Circus, lending an already mysterious story that little bit of je ne sais quoi and elevating it from just another piece of fantasy fiction to something more akin to a tale whispered to you by a beloved grandparent at bedtime.  It comes across as a classic, like rumplestiltskin or the twelve dancing princesses, dark, magical and completely addictive.  This is not a disneyfied fairy tale with sunshine, butterflies and happy endings for all.

One of the higlights of this story, to me, was how vividly she paints everything.  Her characters are never at a dinner, they are at a dinner that begins at midnight in an amazing house, with the most whimsical details, eating spectacular food that is described in full.  The Night Circus is not just a circus, it is a circus where everything is black and white (including the stripes of the tents), where the alleyways smell of carmel popcorn and each and everything you see is a carefully crafted piece of art.  Her descriptions throughout are absoloutly mouth watering, and it makes the Night Circus into way more than just a venue for the story, it's a character in itself.
The actual story is told in a series of clips, each dated and marked for location, sometimes jumping years ahead, and sometimes returning to a year or two before again, all while following different people from her large ensemble cast.  The pieces come together in this teasing way, creating a puzzle to the story which was totally unexpected, and adding yet another layer to this masterful wedding cake of a book.
And did I mention the performing kittens? Well obviously I was sold the instant there were performing circus kittens (ahum, Ms Morgenstern, where do I get such wonderful things??!).
A really vivid, diffrent and engrossing book, well worth the hype.  Make sure to pick it up when it goes on sale tomorrow.  You won't be sorry!
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Buy The Night Circus on Amazon
Check out Erin's blog and website
Come on out to the IFOA in Toronto and see her talk about her debut novel


  1. Glad to hear you liked this so much!

  2. Like your loyal husband, I was also brought to BEA by my daughter to stand in lines while she was in other lines. I too was in the monstrous line to get this book, so had to read it as soon as I got home just to see if it was worth the fuss. Even though it's not something I would generally pick up, I loved it too. So different!!!

  3. I loved this one too!!!!! I need to visit the Ice Garden...what was your favourite tent?

  4. ohhh good question Librarygal! hmmm, I think the wishing tree? But the tentless kittens stole my heart completely.

    Kim! Hahahahahah, so funny, me and your daughter did well when we chose our compatriots! I hope you're helping her get through the wisdom teeth ordeal. I didn't have the heart to tell her that when mine were pulled I strolled out of the office and went for dinner with friends!

    Oh Amy, when you have a chance you'll have to borrow it.

  5. It is really nice to hear your discussion on specific topic here. I too agree with your points here. keep posting good blogs. Thanks.
    domain registration india