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The Night Circus: Review

August 15, 2011

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday Publishing, September 2011
384 pages, $26.95

I loved The Night Circus even more than I expected I would. And my expectations were set pretty high, when The Night Circus was featured at a Book Expo editors’ buzz panel.

The circus appears in a town without warning, and opens only at night: black and white tents, full of wondrous things: trained cats, an ice forest, a menagerie of paper creatures. It’s almost frustrating to read such beautiful, dreamlike descriptions. Knowing that I’ll never be able to wander between the black and white striped tents, sipping spiced cocoa or eating caramel popcorn.

With such enticing scenes of the circus itself, it’s tempting to say the plot doesn’t matter- give me any story, any characters, just show me the inside of these tents. But, the story is as carefully crafted, as invested in magic-dream-logic, as the exhibitions inside the tents. I appreciate the way magic works in this world- it’s part of what holds the circus together, understandably. And different interpretations of magic and its uses, drive some of the plot. There’s a romance, but it feels neither overwrought nor invasive, but woven carefully into the story.

I hear that the script is already going to be turned into a movie. After reading such well-crafted, visually immersive prose, I’m of two minds. I’d love a chance to see the scenes I’ve been imagining. But I’m dubious of books translated into film. If this works.. it will be glorious. I’d also love to see it as a graphic novel, illustrated by someone like Dave McKean. Which gives you a sense of the aesthetic- dark and dreamy and baroque.

Not to gush… but anything I say about this book won’t do it justice. So call this my rave (or Rêves) review.
Pre-order it. Seriously.
I’ll be reading it again.

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