April 23, 2012
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus was one of those books I had seen and heard about but stayed away from for so long - I'm not really sure why - I think I thought it might have been a little too "out there" for my reading tastes. How wrong I was! This book is already one of my favourite reads of 2012 and I am sure it will stay at, or near, the top of the list no matter how many books I manage to read this year.
The Night Circus tells the story of a special circus Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) that travels the globe during the late 1800's opening only during the night hours to captivated crowds. The circus is part traditional circus and part magical realm - the setting of a contest between two novice magicians, Celia and Marco where they attempt to out perform and out maneuver the other in a contest designed to be the death of one of them.
Reading this book reminded me a lot of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - another book that I originally stayed away from but couldn't put down when I did eventually decide to read it. The Night Circus was very similar in its appeal for me - a combination of relationships and settings grounded in reality but also a magical, fantasy element that captured and intrigued me. The book is rich in imagery - I can only imagine that a movie version is already being looked at - and I felt the author did an amazing job in bringing her visionary world to life for the reader. Looking back over the plot carefully after finishing it is easy to see some gaps and inconsistencies but I prefer not to dwell on these - I certainly didn't notice them when I was caught up in the reading and I was completely transported to the world of The Circus of Dreams.
The book was long listed for this years Orange Prize but unfortunately did not make it to the short list - I would like to see books showing this much imagination and story telling ability rewarded much more often.