Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (REVIEW)

This beautiful, evocative book takes you to the circus and won't let you go with its amazing imagery and luxurious prose. But the plot might suffer just a tad.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
387 Pages
Published September 13th, 2011 by Doubleday

"Opens at Nightfall; Closes at Dawn." The Le Cirque des RĂªves is a circus unlike any other, just as this magical debut novel is equally unique. At the center of The Night Circus spectacle are two specially gifted young magicians, Celia and Marco, pitted against each other in professional competition, drawn towards one another in love. Erin Morgenstern's literary fantasy has already drawn raves for its captivating evocativeness: "A world of almost unbearable beauty.... A love story on a grand scale: it creates, it destroys, it ultimately transcends." "A novel so magical that there is no escaping its spell... If you choose to read just one novel this year, this is it."

THE NIGHT CIRCUS is definitely a book with a hype surrounding it, and like any book with hype, I went in with low expectations. I am by my own admission not a big fan of poetic, lyrical writing, preferring straight forward and stark prose, so I was already a bit wary of Erin Morgenstern’s debut.

As promised, THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a story of magic, romance, intrigue, and historical beauty wrapped in gorgeous prose and imagery that marks Morgenstern as a talent to be watched in the future. The story follows Celia and Marco, two young magicians locked in a battle of magic that will only end when one dies. Over the course of several decades, we are told of their lives, along with a cast of characters and intertwined stories of love, loss, deceit, and utter beauty. Morgenstern’s talent lies in her indelible use of prose and images, describing in detail scenes of wonder and beauty.

Morgenstern’s problem in the book is not her writing. She is highly skilled. Her imagery is brilliant and thought-provoking. What I found lacking was plot. At times the story feels forced, and for the love between Celia and Marco, there was a suddenness to it, almost random in the way that Celia falls for Marco. At times, the imagery, although breathtaking, overwhelmed the plot, focusing too much on the intricate details of insignificant items and people and too little on the details of the plot, the characters, and the circus itself. At times, characterization can fall flat, glossed over for the sake of beautiful descriptions. I wanted to know more about these characters and I felt like I barely knew them by the end of the book.

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed this book and I might be one of the few who didn’t outright love it. I would definitely suggest this book to others, and I already have. My mother is already planning on downloading a Kindle copy and reading it soon, and my best friend has promised to find a copy soon. And so should you. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve been hard-pressed to find many people who didn’t really enjoy it. You might just fall in love with it.

VERDICT: With beautiful prose evoking every sense on every page, THE NIGHT CIRCUS’s flaw is the sacrifice of plot for beauty. But my heavens is it beautiful.


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