Jill Furedy's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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's review
Nov 06, 2011

it was amazing
Read in January, 2012

I can see how this book isn't for everyone. The description it gives makes it sound like an epic battle between magicians, but that's not how it works. Most of the book is doing the magician's work: building and expanding upon the circus. We keep meeting new people and entering new tents, seeing new acts, etc. But if you aren't up for the descriptions of each new and absurdly more beautiful/magical/ethereal creation, and are instead looking for the promised epic battle, action, or romance, well, this ain't your book.
I really liked the world, the characters, the descriptions. But the romance is limited, the battle is confusingly vague and not especially battle-y, and the action sporadic. There are different points of view, lots of characters, and different timelines being told interchangedly that start off years apart, but grow closer together as the story reaches it's conclusion. I followed it pretty well, though occasionally had to turn back to the beginning of the chapter to check what year we were currently hearing about. There are no clear rules to this magic game, no timeline, no real point other than to entertain two old magicians who have no moral compunction and nothing better to do with their time (though if that were the case, what else ARE they doing after they set their trainees off on their own and barely check in?) So I get why a lot if people are frustrated with the book, or bored by it. However, I was swept along in the dreamlike descriptions and lovely, if not often practical, magic. I didn't connect to the characters much, but didn't need to... I connected to the circus: would have loved to try the food, see the tents, the costumes, the performances that are often more exhibits than anything with action. I found that sufficient to keep me picking up the book at every free moment.
The writing was a toss up...I loved how she used her language and descriptions, but had my share of moments that I mentally shook my fist at the author (we're following a charcter, hearing all the details and then oops, you don't get to hear what they talk about/what they learn/what they see, suddenly that's secret!) I liked the style more than the substance. But I really liked the style and forgave the book any misgivings I had because of it.
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