January 23, 2013

The Night Circus


This doesn't happen to me often at all; in fact, it's rather a rare sensation and (in my opinion) a sign of excellent writing when I read a novel and find myself wishing that someone will turn it into a movie.  I feel that it's sort of an inevitable sensation to have when reading Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, because as a reader I fell in love with the eponymous circus much more than I fell in love with any of the individual characters.

That's not to say that I think the humans characters in this novel aren't interesting in their own ways, that they don't have quandaries of their own (the central quandary in terms of actual people is that this is a love story, eventually, between two dueling magicians whose venue is the circus--and there's a certain amount of unfairness to their situations as they were volunteered to do what they're doing without any knowledge of how it's inevitably going to end).

But the true star of this novel is, as I said, the circus.  It appears practically out of nowhere, it's open only at night, and Morgenstern's descriptions of the place have you returning back to the novel again and again in the way another young character can't help wanting to keep returning to the circus.

It's not a typical circus, but instead features a variety of tents to explore as well as a number of performing acts out on walkways for circus patrons who can't make up their minds about which tents to enter.  The circus, like the mirror, has motifs of black and white and grey.  And it's full of art.

Once you pick up this novel, you'll be hard pressed to put it back down, because you're so fully transported to a place where magic is possible, where opponents are also co-collaborators and lovers, and where a circus is as much a work of art as a performing venue.

There's also a little bit of intrigue, a problem to be solved, an ingenious solution...and while that's all great, don't read this novel for that.  Read this novel to visit the circus.  I'll be buying my own copy so that I can visit it again and again.

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