Last month I went to a book sale and picked up two random books. The first was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, which was extremely good. The second book was this one, The Night Circus. I almost didn’t pick it up, but I am so glad I did! It is the best book I have read in years.
Book: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Year Published: 2010
Genre: Victorian fantasy
Morality Rating: PG
Readablity Rating: 5 stars
Two magicians select two students to groom for an eventual battle of magical ability. The venue for the contest? A fantastical night circus where everything is black and white.
I honestly have not read a book this excellent in years. This book is exactly what I hope my books will eventually become- a universe that sucks you in so effectively that when you stop reading, you literally feel out of place in real life for a little while. I loved almost everything about this book.
Plot: In all honesty, I think the plot was the weakest part of the book. Although the idea was interesting (the idea of two magical schools of thought competing to see which was the best), I think the execution was a little off. The story didn’t quite explain everything to my satisfaction. But, you can’t have everything in a story, and the universe was so immersive, I enjoyed it without all my questions answered. The story jumped back and forth in time, which was very intriguing, and it added to the dream-like quality of the story.
Characters: This book had many characters. No one was really a main character, which was rather interesting. The story read more like a movie. You never really saw much of the inside of any of the characters, just what they revealed to each other. I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I did wish there was a little more detail about each character, and my favorite character, Bailey, didn’t end up being as crucial to the plot line as I had hoped he would.
Setting: I don’t think I have ever read a setting more perfect for a story than this one. The setting was basically all through the 1860s to the early 1900s. The setting of Victorian life, with the traveling circus as one of the most mysterious and exciting events that happened in each town was perfect. I loved how she fit the theme of night and black and white into every detail of the story.
Writing Style: I was amazing at her writing quality. It was written in present tense, which I don’t normally like, but I actually didn’t notice it as much in this story. Somehow, the events unfolded seamlessly. I really did feel like I was watching one of my own dreams or at least a very well orchestrated movie. It was rather amazing. Morgenstern’s eye for detail and setting the stage is better than anyone I have read in years. One of the only books I have read that have given me a similar feeling is the Inkheart series. I really felt like I was transported to the book’s universe. When I had finished reading The Night Circus, I felt like a part of me was still there for a while.
If there is any book that you read this month, or summer, or even year, I’d make it this one. I hope Erin Morgenstern writes many more books, because I will read them all.