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01 August 2012 @ 07:17 pm
A Preliminary Book Review  
I started reading The Night Circus; it's been a long time since I've read anything fantasy-related that wasn't based first on folklore or mythology, so I was a little wary, especially since the last two books I did read based on folklore ended up being shite.

Anyway, I was going to buy it, and looked up reviews, which were mixed. But The New York Times said that the descriptions made it "too real to believe," and I figured that publishing companies have bigger problems than that lately. I'm about halfway through now, though, so I feel I can say what I think without giving anything away.



The Night Circus is proof that tropes work. The basic premise is sort of along the lines of The Illusionist: competition between two magicians in the late 18th Century, except it turns out that what they're passing off as stage magic is real. The circus is set up as a venue for a competition between two magicians, Celia and Marco, who were raised by their teachers to compete without knowing the circumstances or consequences, and they eventually fall in love.

But it's a lot more, too; Celia and Marco are less "main characters" than an anchor for the world Erin Morgenstern created. There's a huge cast of characters with story lines that circle that of Celia and Marco, including the twins Poppet and Widget, German clockmaker Friederich Thiessen, and Japanese contortionist Tsukiko.

The main problem people seem to have with this book is that it isn't fast-paced. It describes less of a romance than a lifestyle, and is heavy on description of the circus, how it started, and the way in which it operates. The scenes are also not always chronological, skipping between the early twentieth century and what led up to it in the thirty years earlier. It seems to be--for the most part--a love it/hate it type of book, depending on the reader's patience and interests.

As for me, I like it. It's interesting, well-written, well-conceived, and would recommend it, but it's not something I'd write fanfic on.



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Alexanderashmedai on August 3rd, 2012 07:12 pm (UTC)
I wondered about that book, it's been on my "to read" pile for ages. Thanks for the review!
MissTeacakesmissteacakes on August 3rd, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
I would definitely recommend it. It's not a one-or-two-day read, for sure, because you have to digest everything that happens in it. (I still haven't finished it, and I can read a two-hundred page novel in a day, if it's fast-paced enough.)

Another thing I noticed is that, unlike a lot of female authors, she doesn't go into unnecessary detail about clothes or physical appearance of the characters, and the descriptions that are there reflect the feel of the circus itself. It's a practicality that I really appreciate.
Alexanderashmedai on August 3rd, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I'll give it a shot one of these days. I haven't read any fiction in ages, since I mostly read non-fiction books, but it does sound intriguing.