This was described to me as a kind of "grown-ups' Harry Potter," but it really isn't. Clarke manages to write in a very Victorian British style, and p...moreThis was described to me as a kind of "grown-ups' Harry Potter," but it really isn't. Clarke manages to write in a very Victorian British style, and peppers her book with footnotes that build up the mythology and history of Norrell's world. It's a very long read, and it might be tough for some, but it is completely worth the effort.(less)
Avi has written five stories focused on the theme of “transformation.” In one a bored boy trades places with a cat, in another a princess is born invi...moreAvi has written five stories focused on the theme of “transformation.” In one a bored boy trades places with a cat, in another a princess is born invisible and must find pieces of herself to become somebody, and in yet another a sneaky shoemaker must find out the hard way why the devil is sometimes called “Old Scratch.” These strange tales are surprisingly well-written, and are what writers like R.L. Stine should aspire toward in their own work. (less)
Two magicians, both ancient, have been dueling through time using their own proteges as the pawns. The latest two, Celia, daughter to one of the magic...moreTwo magicians, both ancient, have been dueling through time using their own proteges as the pawns. The latest two, Celia, daughter to one of the magicians, and Marco, an orphan adopted and trained by the other, have been pitted against one another in a lifelong battle that neither understands. The rules have never been explained, but they come to see that the chessboard of the contest is the newly created Night Circus, a traveling circus where all dreams can be made reality. While falling in love, the true nature of their contest becomes clear, with dire consequences.
The Night Circus is the kind of book that I just want to melt into completely. From page one, Morgenstern paints a gorgeous canvas of scenery and imagery that tempts the imagination. I love circus stories, and this is one unlike any other that I have read before. The circus has some of the normal aspects of circus culture, like the fortune teller, the illusionist, the big cat show, the scent of caramel on the air, but is so much more than that.
Morgenstern has written a world that I wanted to live in, or even to just visit for a single night, like so many of those who encountered the Night Circus in the story. The writing is lyrical, and the descriptions are detailed and just dripping with wonder. This book is a bit short on plot–instead, it paints a world so complete and sensual that the reader feels the need to linger a while to imagine everything that has been painstakingly described.
While reading, I couldn’t help but compare this to Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, another book that shows the competition between two magic workers, in which they are indelibly tied to one another. However, whereas Jonathan Strange is very densly packed, with huge amounts of plot and intricate historical details in footnotes, The Night Circus is much lighter and will probably appeal to more people based simply on its readability and smaller scope.
My only wish for the book would have been that there would have been more plot and stronger characters. Those two things sound like a big deal, but they factor less into the spirit of this story than one might think. Even so, I would have loved to have gotten to know Marco and Celia more intimately, to know more of the details of the contest they were engaged in, and more about the two magicians that are pulling the strings behind the whole affair. The story also jumps through time quite a bit, with chapters that don’t follow chronologically, so I would recommend that readers pay attention to dates that appear with the chapter headings.
The Night Circus is both a debut and a standalone novel. Morgenstern has done an impressive job with her first work out of the gate, and I can’t wait to see where her imagination leads next. The rights to The Night Circus have also been purchased by Summit, so there will likely be a movie in the future.(less)