The Night Circus: Magic, Romance, and Intrigue

The Night Circus
By Erin Morgenstern
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

I’ve heard this book, from a first time author, draw numerous comparisons.  Early press from Barnes and Noble targeted it as a sort of Harry Potter for adults.  I’ve even seen several reviews have draw comparisons to Water for Elephants.  These people are some of the basest, most idiotic morons to ever pound out inanities on the Internet.  And boy is that ever one hell of an accomplishment.

The Night Circus is nothing like Harry Potter, other than it has wizardry and magic.  If we’re using that as a basis for comparison, we should also compare it to Tolkien and approximately half of all children’s literature published in a given year.

And Water for Elephants?  Really?  Yes a majority of the plot takes place at a circus.  And… really that’s about it.  My god, you’re making me reconsider the invention of the Internet all together here…

More accurately, The Night Circus shows its stripes as part Shakespearean, part Arthurian legend, and part romantic love story .  The last part put me off before I started to read the novel, but… I decided to stop being such a judgemental jerk and just read the damn thing and… it was fantastic!

The romance is played off very well and used sparingly throughout the novel.  The love scenes (or even the romance\wooing scenes) are not spelled out in  intricate detail and, until the last third of the novel, the lovers are hardly aware of one another as such.

So the novel proper eh?  Two great magicians come together and set up a challenge.  The two, one using the stage name Prospero (hm…) and the other a man dressed in gray who goes simply by the initials A. H., provide a young magician they train and, eventually, the Night Circus (so called because it is only open between nightfall and dawn) becomes the battleground for the two erstwhile opponents.

The strongest aspect of the novel is Morgenstern’s ability to set a scene.  The rich descriptions of the Circus itself pop right off the page and, in many ways, the Circus itself becomes the most prominent and likable character in the whole book.

In fact, there are times where it becomes apparent that even the main characters, Celia and Marco, aren’t as developed or well attended to as the Circus is.  But this is not the major flaw it sounds like it should be.  Morgenstern has stated she was writing with fairy tales in mind and this certainly shines through, in a very positive way.

The only other flaw I find with the novel is that it spends a lot of time getting to the ending without doing much with it.  The ending isn’t bad, but it does seem abrupt.

The novel is remarkable and succeeds in spite of some minor shortcomings in character development.  It is truly a landmark achievement for a first time author and has all the promise of a wonderful literary career.

Should you read it?  Definitely, especially if you enjoy fantasy, magic, and a a good love story.

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