Newest Review: ... Times and this is the exact word I would use to describe the whole book. The language is beautiful and so evocative that straight away I... more
Dreaming in Black and White.
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Member Name: QueenElf
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Advantages: Different, magical, entertaining.
Disadvantages: Wooden characters, some lapse of plot and description.
Having read some good things about this book I decided to put it in front of a few I have ready to read and managed to get through it in two days, not a bad feat when it's 387 pages in Hardback. Mine was a library copy but will I be buying the paperback to read again?
***The Circus comes to town***
Ever since I read a Ray Bradbury story about a fairground, I've found both fairgrounds and circuses a little sinister. The night circus obviously has the same effect as it appears one day without any fanfare, just sets itself down in a field and announces over the entrance that it will open at Nightfall and close at Dawn. Fabulous in appearance with a striking Monotone design, the circus attracts much attention on its debut night in the mid 1880's. An exact date is hard to pin down since the book follows it's own timeline with accounts of various attractions interspersed between the stories of how the circus came into being.
The circus is a series of circles that twist and turn into other tents by way of a covered pathway enclosed by a continuous fence. Rather than a main attraction there is always something happening in any of the many tents formed of fire, ice, dreams and desires. It is magic in motion and many hands have brought it into being though it is kept going by a most curious effect-pure magic.
A bargain was struck and a pact made some years previously by a Magician and a Sorcerer, the one putting forward his only child, Celia against the Scorer's apprentice, Marco in a contest to see who will be the stronger of the two. Many minds were manipulated and fortunes spent and made bringing the circus into being as the game board for the contestants to play on. Whether they choose to or not, their lives and the lives of all the many acrobats, jugglers, conjurers, fortune tellers and even some of the backers depends on the contest carrying on in a state of perpetual motion. But the contestants fall in love and love changes many things, including the fairness of being apart for all of their lives.
***Les RÍveurs (The Dreamers)***
The circus is called Le Cirque de RÍves and its many followers call themselves the dreamers. The circus is able to travel by train from city to country and from one continent to the next. Over the years its followers become a part of the great event although their journeys are more mundane than the circus, which appears to just fold up and vanish, re-appearing at the next destination. Something rather strange happens to the people who formed or aided the design of the circus; they don't age but carry on, though that can cause problems. When an accident occurs bringing the death of the clockmaker, a dear friend of Celia, it becomes plain that something must break the stalemate without doing too much harm, but how can this be done?
With such a sumptuous story the characters are, by definition, larger than life and are suitably exotic in most cases. Naturally the main players are Celia and Marco, the lovers who gradually realize their fate is more than a game. Marco was taken from an orphanage at an early age and taught by the creepy Alexander- a man who is older than time. Celia is the unwanted daughter of the enchanter Hector Bowen who has played this game before. That she retains loyalty to her father keeps her human and she is beautiful of form and soul. Though Marco starts a little arrogant, he soon shows his true colors and takes on the role of protector with zeal.
Many people flit in and out of the story as it meanders back and forth through time, the purpose of this eventually shows a reason, but is disconcerting at first. The reader entering the story does so as a dreamer as well; one cannot remain unaffected by such magical penmanship. Here we find villains to boo at, lovers to coo at and plenty of fun with the twins Widget and Poppet, along with their feline friends.
Amongst the human followers are the clockmaker, Fredrick Thiessen, the architect Ethan Barris, the twin Burgess sisters and Tante Padva along with Chandresh Christophe Lefevre who runs the circus and then there's the twin's friend Bailey, who is possibly more important than he seems. But this is the circus and time is short so let's leave them to their enchantments and visit awhile the silent breathing statues, the contortionist who knows more than she lets on and maybe have our tarot cards read by Isobel, the raven-haired beauty who first seduced Marco. We have until dawn before the circus closes for another night.
As much as I wanted to be a true dreamer, I think maybe I expected too much of the performers. The story is excellent and follows each twist of the circus with magic aplenty. The players are superb, they sparkle with enchantment and the dialogue is rich with witticism, so why is it not a perfect score? Dare I say I found the lovers a little immature and wooden at times without offending fellow dreamers? That surely the harshness of the gamblers and the cost of the stakes were overlooked for so long? That the signs were there for the open-eyed to see and the performers are adept at seeing clearly.
Still, the trapping of the book is a delight with each page edged in black to follow the monotone theme of the circus. The figures adorning the front are white on black with many flourishes and furbelows to dazzle the eye. A touch of whimsical red ribbon shows that dreamers are invited within these pages and we really hope they will stay and explore at some length and at a fair price, for entry must be charged even to fellow rÍveurs. It is to be noted that the great repository of dreams, Amazon, are charging just a pittance at £7.79 or there is a different way of perusing the pathways called Kindle at just £7.01.
I just wish that the box of delights offered had not been a little sticky in parts and the elegance of the period had been described in much more detail for travelers by word need more than pencil sketches to fire the imagination. I am impressed by the scope of the imagination but a trifle under whelmed by its application. Therefore a lamentable four stars from this reviewer.
Thank you for reading.
This review may appear on other sites.
Summary: Highly readable Fairy story.