Confession time: I put this book on my “to-read” list without knowing that it was a love story. When I read the back cover reviews I was sorely disappointed. It’s not my style. All the pining and swooning and lines like “…he said, his brown eyes sparkling…” make my gag reflexes kick into high gear. That being said, The Night Circus contained a love story that was altogether unexpected and almost entirely un-nauseating!
I genuinely enjoyed this book! I thought the storyline was the best part, being so imaginative and well-developed. The best part was that it wasn’t a storyline I have read over and over again, each version differing seemingly only in the change in character names and locale. The premise was that of a contest between two wonderfully capable magicians, or “illusionists,” who focus their competitive efforts into a circus, open only at night, and elaborately themed and decorated in black and white.
While the author, Erin Morgenstern’s, writing style and language was not particularly eloquent or exceptional for the most part, she proves fully capable of painting elaborate scenes within the reader’s imagination and, while the wording isn’t brilliant, the things being described are extraordinarily unique. The story is told from multiple points of view, leaving readers balanced between affections for many opposing characters. For me personally, that is a sign of a well-developed character; it is easy to write a character who is all bad or all good, but it takes a special character to display bad and good qualities and leave readers torn as to where to lay their allegiance.
I wouldn’t give this book four stars, although I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot truthfully name anything particularly unlikable about it. Yes, it was a pleasant read but I can’t just go around throwing four-star ratings at everything I found to be sufficiently enjoyable. Four-star ratings are saved for books that leave me feeling completely satisfied but at a slight loss once finished, books like A Game of Thrones or The Iliad. Because The Night Circus cannot possibly live up to those standards, I give it 3 & 1/2 stars. I enjoyed every bit, but I can’t say that I will seek out to read it again one day. I do recommend it to anyone with a fondness for imaginative stories of love, and the troubles it inevitably brings along for the ride.
Favorite Characters: Bailey Clarke, Poppet and Widget Murray, Tante Padva
Favorite Quotes: “Secrets have power (…) [a]nd that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well” – Widget
“She was young and clever and beautiful (…) because if the girl had not been beautiful and clever, she would have been easier to resist, and then there would be no story at all” – Widget, again
“The past stays on you the way powdered sugar stays on your fingers” – Widget!! Clever boy!
From here, we move on to “Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a very short story so we will only spend two days on it and then move right on to Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. So grab a copy and read along!