January 26th, 2015

book talk // the night circus.

While I acknowledge that I am definitely a few years behind the times in reading this book now, it has languished on my “to-read” list for far too long and I intended to (finally) remedy that this year. I recall this book having quite a bit of buzz around it because it was a NaNoWriMo book that had achieved a certain level of book club fame. Typically, I find that I avoid books that have ascended to this level (re: my weirdness about not reading Harry Potter) but, I am trying to remedy myself of that as well. So, since I’ve been feeling very under the weather recently, and spurred awake by a midnight coughing fit, I began reading The Night Circus while sipping my hot lemon and honey water. I then continued reading, interrupted only by a few fitful hours of sleep, well into the following morning. I absolutely did not want to be separated from this book without discovering how it ended.

After perusing other reviews on Goodreads, I’ve found that this particular novel is quite polarizing and people are either extremely complimentary or irrefutably frustrated. That said, I do think this book is meant for a specific sort of person. I was utterly ensconced by the imagery and writing style from the very outset. Normally, I don’t enjoy random characters being thrown in the mix after a main storyline has been established — but, somehow, when the author decided to introduce a new, and seemingly unimportant, character, I was immediately intrigued — Herr Thiessen and Tsukiko come to mind. I even liked Isobel. I suppose some people may have felt misled by the promise of a love story and, yes, while there is a love story (or maybe a few love stories, actually), what you’re really reading about is the circus as a living, breathing thing. And the circus is not actually a circus in the traditional sense, but more of a place to practice magic so as to not strike fear into muggles, because it’s all deception and illusion, don’t you see? There are no peanut shells or carnival games at this circus.

The plot itself is slow, gradual — not action-packed, but more like a chess game played over an extended period of time. Except the pawns are manipulated by sociopathic father figures who force their charges into a situation neither of them are prepared for. Additionally, although the magic system utilized in this world is not explicitly explained, I didn’t mind. I thought the mystery regarding the “game” and the circus and even the characters simply added to the mystical quality of the night circus itself. I will say, I wish Bailey had arrived in time.

Overall, I had no expectations going into this book and perhaps that’s why I allowed it to envelope me so wholly. The night circus is definitely a place I can see myself returning to in the future.

Rating: 5/5
Recommended For: anyone that’s not in a hurry

  • Katelin

    I think your ‘recommended for’ is exactly right. I didn’t love this book, but I definitely enjoyed it. And it was a much slower story than I had anticipated, but so beautifully visual as well. I’d be so curious if they ever made this into a movie and how it would look.

    • I would be really curious about the movie version too. Honestly, while reading I thought about how difficult it would be to translate onto the screen.

  • I LOVED this book! The imagery and the whimsy and puzzle with the competition and how it all unravels… I must have read book in one sitting, and have a picked it up a million times since. It as quite slow, I think I got into it for the characters more than anything else. I think they’re more than just 2D (which makes it easy to like and understand characters like Isobel, you know?).

    • When I picked this book up I knew NOTHING (except that there was a mild buzz about it a few years ago) regarding the story and was totally impressed. Isobel was a very likable character to me. Anyway, glad you enjoyed it too!!

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