Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern; © 2011 Anchor Canada


I haven't written a book review in a while, but The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern is the first book that we will be discussing for my book club's fourth season. The fact that we have been going strong for four years is quite exciting, as none of us really knew what we were getting into when we started this thing. We figured you read a book, drank some wine and chatted intellectually about the fine prose that we were exposed to over canapes. It is something like that, but we talk just as much about our children, jobs and life changes that occur for all of us, as we do about any of the books that we read. That being said, we always get around to the book of the month as well. And I have to say that this book should be a pleasure to discuss.

The Night Circus is Morgenstern's first novel. As I know a little bit about the writing and publishing industries (not enough to be considered expert or even claim a first novel of my own YET!), first novels are often the best that a writer might ever produce. Morgenstern should be proud, as this is a novel that anyone would be thrilled to claim penmanship to. From the first pages, she creates beautiful images that enchant the reader and encourage the pages to turn ever faster. The uncertainty of the world you are entering is replaced by a longing to be able to enter the Night Circus oneself to behold its magnificent exhibits. If only you could wander the Labyrinth, explore the Cloud Maze or hear your fate at the fortune teller. As you are drawn further into the story, Morgenstern convinces you to believe in the unbelievable and trust in your instincts even when the cold hard world tells you not to.

The circus is only one side of this beautiful fairy-tale like novel though. On the surface, this novel is about the fantastical circus acts that beg you to suspend your belief in everything that you see and know. As the story unwinds though, a romance unfolds in the pleats of the tents. Celia is a magician that performs the unbelievable just well enough to keep the audience guessing if what they saw was truly real or indeed magic. Marco is an assistant to the manager of the circus, but seems to be the driving force behind making the circus the spectacle that it is. Both of them hold special gifts and powers that affects everything around them, from people to objects, to a unique relationship that sparks between them. What most people don't realize though is that these two strangers were sworn into a competition years before they ever met; a competition with no solid rules of engagement or understanding of how it will ever end. Not even the players understand the game, but their instructors constantly goad them into ever more spectacular feats to proclaim a victor.

While I won't give away the outcome of this delightful tale, I will share that the imagery Morgenstern paints is more than enough reason for you to pick up this book. She draws you in with her beautiful prose and lets you know that you will be safe for the duration of your reading - probably. If you don't believe me, you could always ask her yourself. She has a website with an attached blog, where she writes 10-sentence flash fiction, entitled flax-golden tales, every Friday. Plus, she will be on Twitter this evening at 9:30pm EST to discuss The Night Circus with the Yummy Mummy Book Club, which I also have to thank as I even won the book in a contest that YMBC hosted. Cool! Just for that alone, I might have to pop in for a tweet!

What about you?

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