October 9, 2012

Review: The Night Circus (ie. A Gushfest)

I finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and all I can say is that I'm in awe--of her writing, of the story, of the way it drew me in and made me want to run away and join the circus*. Brace yourself for a whole lot of gushing ahead.

Only "Cover!" is the word.
The initial cover didn't really draw me in like it should. Perhaps it was the fact that it shared the same colour scheme as the Twilight series or maybe it was something else. I do, however, like the slightly altered paperback cover. The addition of silver to the black, red, and white adds a magical quality and really reflects the colour palette in the novel. Also, I love that Marco's and Celia's silhouettes were added to the front. They basically built on the original cover and made it better.

O brave new world that has such people in't!
This book is peopled with extremely interesting and unique characters, especially evident once the circus is up and running. Marco and Celia were my favourites (of course) mainly because I'm a sucker for a good romance, but everyone from Chandresh to the contortionist to Poppet and Widget were fantastic. They all made the circus and the story come alive in very different ways. Also worth mentioning--Bailey. I can't help wondering if his name was intentional, as in Barnum & Bailey. Kind of like a tip of the bowler hat, you know?

It's not enough to speak, but to speak true.
The way this story is told is unlike any other that I've read. At first the use of different types of grammatical person (first, second, and third) took me by surprise and I wasn't sure I would love it. Wrong. This is yet another part of what made The Night Circus unique and compelling. Perhaps the most distinctive are the snippets written in second person, but they appear so seldom that it isn't jarring or tiresome. They read as though someone is trying to set the mood for you like so, "Picture this: The circus arrives in town..." An example from The Night Circus' opening pages:
"...as dusk approaches there is a substantial crowd of spectators gathering outside the gates. You are amongst them, of course. Your curiosity got the better of you, as curiosity is wont to do. You stand in the fading light, the scarf around your neck pulled up against the chilly evening breeze, waiting to see for yourself exactly what kind of circus only opens once the sun sets."
The bulk of the story is told in third person, but the occasional addition of second person accounts really adds something.

Was not this love indeed?
I feel like the word of the day is 'unique', but I'm just going to have to use it again. This love story is unique from beginning to end. Erin Morgenstern manages to convey so much chemistry and swoon in something so chaste as fingers touching a face or a gentleman helping a lady to her feet. Seriously? Did it just get really hot in here? Um, yes. Yes it did. The romance itself and the way it played out was like nothing I've read before and I found myself rereading segments just to savour it. It was, in a word, beautiful.

I could a tale unfold...
This story, oh this story! It is beautiful, magical, atmospheric, romantic, and escapism at its finest. The reading experience, from the page embellishments throughout to the vivid descriptions of the circus, is unforgettable. My only qualm (and it's small enough as to be almost insignificant) is the way the timeline skips back and forth. There was one particular instance where this left me confused, though this was remedied very quickly. A piece of advice: Pay close attention to the dates at the start of each chapter to save yourself from confusion. All in all, this story was so much more than I was expecting, and I will  be revisiting The Night Circus again and again.

Verdict: Such stuff as dreams are made on.

P. S. My sister, Erin--a fellow book-lover and writer--has started her own blog! Check it out: ERIN L. FUNK.


* Okay, maybe not. But I was a clown once, so I might have something to offer.

22 comments:

  1. Ok--I'm sold :) I think I already own this one, so I don't even have to feel bad for adding to the huge TBR pile :)

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    1. It really wasn't anything like I was expecting or like anything else I've read before. It feels like a modern day insta-classic, in my opinion. The circus is just so magical and completely un-carny (no clowns here) that it was a pleasure to read about. I just wish it would come to my city. :)

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  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I hoped you would! Love the new Shakespeare book review format and I completely agree with your verdict on The Night Circus. And thanks for the shout out to my blog. Yes, we can admit we're related now :)

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    1. I can't imagine not loving this book now that I've read it. So much about the experience was great, like I've mentioned above. I really don't think I have anything bad to say about it. :)

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  3. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I like it when people with taste say good things about books I enjoyed. It makes me feel like I have good taste too! :)

    The time line thing is a little odd at first, but I like the way they served as strands of a story that coalesce... and that's enough said about that! [SPOILERS!] It really is a beautifully-written book, and nothing like I expected either. Great review, Jaime. And everyone else, if you haven't read this book, read it. If you've read and loved JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke, you'll adore this book. The style is very similar.

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    1. I don't think your good taste was ever in question. :) And as for the timeline, when I realized what was happening it just made it even better. So seldom do I come across a book that is written so well and that just feels like an experience to read it. I know that this is one I'll want to read again someday just to immerse myself in that world all over again. :)

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  4. Ohhhh that sounds very very good! I haven´t read it yet (haven´t even bought it yet) but your review is so magical that I need to get my hands on this very very soon!
    Thanks so much for sharing Jaime!

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    1. Now that it's finally in trade paperback it's actually affordable. It was VERY pricey when it first came out because it's considered an adult book. Although, truth be told, it feels like it could even be YA (which is yet another reason why I loved it). My sister bought it for me, so that prompted me to actually read. So glad I did! :)

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  5. Jaime! I've missed you! Seems like it's been forever. LOVE your gushfest. It sounds amazzzzing. Such a fabulous description of the book. And following Erin! What a fun blog! :D

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    1. It feels like it's been a long time, doesn't it? This book was just so fantastic I had to gush over it. Especially since it took me forever to actually get around to reading it. I'm trying to do more reviews on my blog and this was a great one to kick that off. :)

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  6. I've been passing this one over for ages, and I'm not really sure why... You've definitely convinced me to pick it up though, especially now that I can get it in paperback. (And I agree: The paperback cover is slightly more appealing.) Thanks for the fantastic gush-fest!

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    1. I think part of what I love so much about the new cover is the silhouettes of Marco and Celia. It wasn't clear before that there is romance in the novel, and by adding these two it made that more evident. I love me a good romance. ;) I meant to mention in this review but somehow forgot: this book almost feels like YA to me, and I'm not the only person to mention that. I think maybe it was mistakenly categorized as adult. Of course, this only makes me love it more!

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  7. I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds lovely. :)

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    1. I can't say enough about the writing and the atmosphere. Well worth the read! :)

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  8. I loved this book, too! We read it for our book club and a couple of the girls got a bit confused along the way and I told them you just have to trust her to put it all together. And she does, beautifully.

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    1. Exactly! I was paying attention to the timelines, but got kind of lost in the back and forth shuffle. I wasn't lost for long though. :)

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  9. The writing in this book snared me from the beginning--so beautiful! Glad you loved it, too. :)

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    1. It reads in many ways like a classic. I just loved the atmosphere she created! :)

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  10. Update on Follow by Email: I received an email with the full post at 1:15 am, so there's a bit of a lag time. :) But now I won't miss anything!

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    1. Well that's not so bad (about the lag). Thanks for letting me know! :)

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  11. ok, I'm going to be straight up honest here. I didn't love this book. I was so confused by it and I kept wanting there to be so much more magic and chemistry between the main couple. Ugh. Anyway, it felt like a bizarre dream and I was trying to sift through a lot of it to get to the meat. Ok, I had to say it. Thanks for the review.

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    1. I could definitely use more romance almost all the time, so I can see what you mean. :) I think it was exactly the kind of book that I was in the mood for when I read it, so that was good. That being said, I can totally see how it wouldn't be for everyone.

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