Tuesday, February 2, 2016
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.
Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way--a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a "game" to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.
Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.
Image and summary from Goodreads.com.
My review: This is a book like no other. Don't judge a book by it's cover--that's what they say. It was definitely the cover art that attracted me to this book. And so many good reviews! A comparison to Harry Potter! This has been on my TBR list for ages and I finally got to it with relish and...I was disappointed. (On a side note, I think any comparison to Harry Potter is a kiss of death.)
Morgenstern's prose is like a beautifully woven tapestry. The story is simply stunning - visually impeccable considering that a novel has nothing to do with sight. That makes this novel unique. But I always felt I was kept at arm's length from the characters. I was watching a story, a play...I was a member of an audience rather than being part of the story like most reading experiences create. It worked for this book in a way because the reader is in the audience of Le Cirque des Rêves. I never developed an attachment to any of the characters or rooted for any particular outcome. The competition, the villains, the protagonists all fell flat for me. I kept turning the pages, wanting to know what would happen, but nearly anything could have happened and I would've been okay. Everything about the story was quite two-dimensional for me and I couldn't help but feel let down after all the hype around this book.
My Rating: 3.25 stars
To sum it up: A beautiful fairy tale that is more intriguing than enthralling.
For the sensitive reader: One "f" word early in the book had me concerned that there would be strong language throughout, but it was an isolated incident. The romance was sweet, violence was minimal, and language was minimal.