3 letters. Wow.
I had a really good weekend, and read like a machine.
Right after finishing The City of Ember, I went on Amazon and ordered both, the sequel The People of Sparks, and the prequel The Prophet of Yonwood. I intend to buy the 4th book as well, The Diamond of Darkhold, but I don’t want to pay upwards of $20 for the hardcover. (All City of Ember books I have are hardcovers). So while I waited for the next 2 books in the series, I thought I would start and hopefully finish another book by the time they arrived. That book, was The Night Circus.
This past Christmas I received 4 books from my friends; Twilight: Life and Death, The Night Circus, The Phantom of the Opera, and Four Friends. The woman who got me The Night Circus, had read it herself, and prior to Christmas had told me how much she enjoyed it. She told me, that she thought I would enjoy it, and that there was a romance (yay!) that would keep me interested. I wanted to read it first, but after completely getting wrapped up again with the new Twilight: Life and Death, I didn’t want to read 2 romances in a row. So, I read Life of Pi instead, then was delayed again by The City of Ember, which like Life of Pi had sat on my dresser the past 2 years without being opened. Finally, I had my moment.
The Night Circus has all my favorite things. Supernatural or magical elements, romance, interesting characters, sharp, descriptive imagery, and lots of contrast and interesting plots and movement.
So a recap if you are not familiar:
The story follows 2 characters, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. The story starts when they are children, both of unfortunate circumstances, who are chosen by 2 magicians to take part in a challenge of sorts. The characters are chosen separately with no knowledge of who the other is, and are both taught by their instructors in completely different ways. The venue for the challenge is a circus, and the 2 “battle” it out in front of circus patrons. Real magic, under the disguise of illusion to the patrons. This is the basis of the story, which takes place during the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. Everyone who is part of the circus is affected by the challenge in some way, extra pieces on the chessboard.
There is a lot of build up for the story. The first half of the book, moved slowly, and it wasn’t until a little after halfway, the students meet each other as opponents. They know each other, but don’t realize the other is their opponent until (in my opinion) late in the book. The romance doesn’t spark up immediately either, but once it is ignited, it’s pretty good. I’m a romanticist, and I love stories about star crossed lovers, obsession, desire. But I also don’t like having those things simply written or served on a silver platter. I like turmoil, conflict, opposing sides. Wanting to be loved by the other person to the point it consumes you and drives you crazy, wanting to be together because it feels so right when it reality it’s wrong. I was pleasantly surprised at how the author delivered me these things in a way that did not seem traditional.
Away from the romance, I loved the world this painted for me. The way they describe the circus, is like something out of a dream. It’s magical, it’s mysterious, it’s beautiful and charming at the same time it intrigues you and engages all your senses. Spoiler, the circus is entirely magical, and tied to our characters. Before they know who their opponent is, they only know them through magical chess moves, and these magical chess moves are tents with other worldly atmospheres, in response to their opponents. The way these things are described in great detail is brilliant. It can be a bit fairy tale and make believe, but aren’t most books and movies? The author, Erin Morgernstern writes in a way that makes you truly present in the world she has created. There is so much more in the book that I appreciated, that the things I didn’t like are really very few in between.
I simply could not put this book down, which as I have said before is a sure sign I really like a book. Every moment I had to read, be it 2 hours or 10 minutes, I was reading it. I finished it Friday night, but have been collecting my thoughts for this review, as well as starting and finishing The People of Sparks.
I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads.com, because I truly was amazed with this book. I would recommend it to others to read, especially if you are into fantasy novels.