Thursday, March 29, 2012

Book review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

Shrouded in mystery, enveloped in shadows, Erin Morgenstern's debut novel pulls the reader in as much as the scent of caramel carried on the cool night air might draw in the denizens of this fine tale.

Marco and Celia are the apprentices of two powerful magicians who have entered their protegees into a contest which only one can win, with the circus as their battlefield. Yet it is a contest in which the two come to be reluctant participants in a game they do not begin to truly understand until it is nearly too late.

The Night Circus is a love story for those who don't like love stories. The tension between the protagonists is almost palpable yet manages to not overwhelm the larger story of the circus and its impact on everyone it touches, no matter how peripherally.

Further, Morgenstern's skill as a writer is on display in the seamless transitions between the second person interludes that immerse the reader into this intense and moving world and the third person narration of the story itself. This is a story that continues to play with the imagination even after the book is laid down between chapters, and it haunts the mind long beyond its conclusion.

I borrowed this book from my local library and ended up buying it from a local bookstore; I liked it that much. I've also recommended it to just about all of my friends, which is why I'm recommending it to you. Reminiscent of The Map of Time in its flow and intensity with shades of Neil Gaiman (one of my all-time favorite writers, so this comparison is not one I'd make lightly and is to be considered high praise), The Night Circus was nearly impossible to put down. Its ending drove me forward with a mix of anticipation for what was to happen next and dread that the story was soon to end.

The Night Circus is published by Doubleday and is available from your local, independent bookstore. (Want to make a difference? Shop your local, independent bookstore!)

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