Friday, December 9, 2011
REVIEW: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Audience: Adult/YA Crossover
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Realism
Summary: The Cirque des Rêves arrives in the night, without warning, and captivates its audience from dusk till dawn. What the audience—and most of the performers—do not know is that the circus is merely the arena for a much grander scheme. Two magicians have set their protégés on a collision course, a deadly game where not even the participants themselves are sure of the rules—or the consequences. Celia, the daughter of Prospero the Enchanter, is a performer in the circus, pretending that her magical feats are mere illusion. Marco, an orphaned boy trained by Prospero's greatest rival to defeat Celia, is more covert in his strategy. The Night Circus spans decades and continents as the game plays out slowly—until the two competitors finally meet and fall in love, putting the circus itself at risk.
This gorgeously imaginative, genre-blending novel is all about atmosphere and tone. It reminds me of a slightly lighter, Victorian-era Something Wicked This Way Comes. The prose creates a feeling of suspended enchantment, and the reader is made to feel like a spectator to the circus itself. The action develops slowly, and the narrative skips about in time and from one character to the next. Some readers may find this frustrating; and yet, however loosely the threads are woven, they all pull together magically at the end. Readers who loved Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell won't want to miss it.