Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Night Circus

I struggle with this sort of book, because usually they are disappointing. But Erin Morgenstern wove an exceptional tapestry of magic, character, and mystery as she unfolds the story of The Night Circus. The main characters, Celia and Marco, have been magically bound by dueling enchanters to a game that centers
on Le Cirque des Reves. Only gradually do they see how complicated the game has become, and what the stakes mean to them and to those they love.

How did I like it? Like the story itself, my opinion of it gradually unfolded.

On page 10, when Prospero swore, I had half a mind to stop reading, because books filled with swearing annoy me. On page 28, when Celia tries to heal her sliced fingers, I had 3/4 of a mind to stop reading, because books filled with pain and abuse hurt me. But Morgenstern's storytelling had already captivated me, and I persevered with the quarter-mind I had left. And before long, I was, like so many of the characters, enchanted.

Not-as-bad-as-they-might-be things:
The Night Circus is not filled with swearing. There is the one afore-mentioned f-bomb.
The overt pain and abuse end quickly, and...are like the brutality in fairy tales, demonstrative of villainy but not the stuff of monstrous nightmares and broken lives.
The single semi-explicit scene is short and near the end. But you can easily skip it altogether and not miss a thing. You can see it coming on page 295, and it ends on the next page, at the asterisk. Do read the part after the asterisk; there are plot points there.

Good things:
A plot that unfolds richly, beautifully, and subtly, much like Le Cirque des Reves. Characters that are likeable (mostly), multi-dimensional, and compelling. The imagery is stunning, with mesmerizing images that linger--a cauldron burning with white fire, spell-binding rings, red scarves, and an entrancing clock.

If this sounds like something you will like, read it. Because you will.


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