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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern []



Evocative. Descriptive. Atmospheric. The Night Circus is a good story, but its the atmosphere that will keep you turning the pages. Set in the late Victorian era, The Night Circus tells the story of two students, Celia and Marco, forced by their individual teachers to compete against each other in a game they don’t understand. Their playing field is an unusual circus, which becomes more and more fantastic as the two young magicians populate the circus with their increasingly elaborate creations. A carousel with strikingly realistic animals. A tree without leaves or flowers, but covered with candles which never go out or melt away. A hall in which hundreds of mirrors each show something unexpected. A garden made of perpetually unmelting of ice.

Everything about Le Cirque des Rêves is improbable, and much of the book is devoted to describing the circus and the experience of visiting it. The narrative shifts in time, place, and voice, but always describes the circus or the people connected to it. Some chapters are written in the second person, and while most of the book is written in the third person some chapters are completely without characters (unless you count the circus itself); these chapters especially create a feeling of immersion and they felt to me as if they were in the second person, even if they did not use the word “you”.

The level of detail is appropriately, but sometimes startlingly, varied. Morgenstern often writes at length about minutia such the smell of the popcorn, or the costume of a particular performer, only to gloss over the details of a conversation in the most general language. These glosses may, perhaps, represent some lost opportunities on Morgenstern’s part, where she could have further fleshed out her story, but on the whole I found them unobjectionable and even welcome; not only did they help keep the story focused, but they contributed to the tone of the novel, which I found unusual but very much enjoyed.

The Night Circus is a fantasy, and a romance of sorts, and will be enjoyed by many open-minded readers of both genres.

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