Friday, March 2, 2012

Group Review: The Night Circus

Summary: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. ~product description

Alice's Review:  This novel is visually stunning.  From the dust jacket art to the embossed cover, it’s perfect.  What thrills me is the beauty is carried through the novel in words.  Erin Morgenstern is amazing; simply amazing.   From the first page, she drew me into a world of black & white and vivid color.  If I closed my eyes, I was there.  I wanted to be there.  Oh, how I wished the circus were real.  Everything about this book is magical.  Everything.

From the moment I heard about this novel, I was intrigued.  Between the circus setting and the love story, I knew The Night Circus would be pure magic.  And oh, there are so many things that make this novel magical.  I’m not even sure where to begin. Should it be the characters or the concept or the beauty of words Ms. Morgenstern enchants us with?  This novel has it all.  Mystery, betrayal, love, hope.

It had so many morsels of goodness too.  By the time I was done, I had so many flags sticking out of the pages it looked more like a college textbook than a novel.   It touched my heart, my soul.  Not only was I transported to a world I wish existed beyond Ms. Morgenstern’s imagination, but also I was inspired.   

I love when she writes “There’s emotion…It almost contradicts itself. It’s as if there is love and loss at the same time, together in a kind of beautiful pain.”

My favorite chapter in this novel is called Movement. It is when Celia meets Herr Friedrick Thiessen, the clockmaker. Although Celia’s heart belongs to another, there is something so wonderful in reading how their friendship began.  How there is mutual respect and admiration between them.  He was one of the few people Celia trusts.  I love how Friedrick  says, “Because I do not wish to know. I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.”

And finally I love how Marco builds Celia a ship. “Only the ship is made of books, its sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon in dark black ink.”

Perfect.  Now go read it.  Trust us.

Final Take: 5/5

Jenn's Review:  I was mildly interested in this book when it came out, even though it is outside my normal comfort genres.  The buzz was good and it sounded like an interesting premise.  However, without this challenge, I may never have picked it up, and that would have been a tragedy.

I find myself for a loss of words, and that in itself is a rarity.  There aren't enough words to describe the wonder that is The Night Circus.  It's stunning.  The novels I adore are the ones that keep me from becoming a writer; I could never be this imaginative or this creative... Erin Morgenstern makes all my ideas mundane.  Her writing ebbs and flows and eddies and swirls... but in something more viscous than water... perhaps molasses.  It was gooey, but never heavy, enveloping and delicious.

The premise, the characters, the setting, all fabulous and brought to life by Ms. Morgenstern's languid style.  What I found most interesting, though was the way the chronology of the story jumps between the present, 1902, and the past.  It takes real talent to make time shifts work without being confusing.  Ms. Morgenstern gives the reader glimpses of what is to be and then the story of how it came to be ~and it's done perfectly.  I was so entranced in the story that the glimpses of where the story was headed, though intriguing, didn't consume me with questions they just lit the path.  Only once did  I draw an inference from a flash-forward, and I was completely wrong; I stopped analyzing and let Ms. Morgenstern spin her story.  That's another wondrous achievement, for since I've become a book blogger I often find I read more critically.  Ms. Morgenstern allowed me to read like a reader, to just be consumed be the pages.

This is not just making my top reads of 2012 list, but one of my top reads ever.  It is one of those books I will recommend to strangers in book stores, because I just can't help sharing.

Final Take:  5/5

Julie's Review:  Spellbound, enchanting, mystical and wondrous. I can't think of better words to describe Erin Morgenstern's debut novel The Night Circus. This book had a ton of buzz around it and now that I have read that final page, I can understand why. It is just so beautiful and magical. I don't usually like to draw comparisons to Harry Potter and JK Rowling but this book while not the same gave me the same feeling that I had while reading HP. I felt as if I was transported to another world. A world where I wanted to be and wish existed.

What I loved about Ms. Morgenstern's writing was that the love story was secondary to everything else that was going on in the book. At least it was to me. I was more in love withe the circus than I was with Celia and Marco. Now that's not saying that I didn't thoroughly enjoy that part of the book because I did, but I loved that it wasn't the focus of the entire novel. By the time it happened, I felt that it was natural and meant to unfold the way it did. All the secondary characters are vivid, mysterious and delightful. There is no character that is flat in this novel. Perhaps the biggest character is the circus itself. It is alive and vibrant; the center of the novel. She is also the master of not revealing all of her cards until the perfect time and she does this several times during the book. I wasn't sure how she was going to wrap everything up but she did so perfectly. There were no strings left untied.

I loved Celia. I loved her essence, her talent and her heart. She was easy to like and root for throughout the book. You also knew that she was heavily manipulated by her father and waited for her to break the strings that tied her to him. Marco was a wonderfully complex and mysterious character.

I was totally enraptured by this book. If I go on any longer, I would spoil plot points that are best left to the reader to explore themselves. I loved the book jacket for the hardcover. It is intricate, ornate and captures the novel. I don't normally "feel" the cover of the book but something my fingers to that circus tent and what a joy it was to discover that there was more to it than meets the eye.

Go read this book! You will be taken somewhere that you will want to never forget and will want to revisit many times.

Final Take: 5/5

Already read The Night Circus?  Join our discussion of this fabulous novel here on Goodreads.


Jenn March 2, 2012 at 7:00 AM  

Neither Alice not I toss the word 'stunning' around a lot... nor did we read the other's review prior to writing our own, so you know we mean it. :D

I adored the ship of books too, Alice. One of my favorite bits...

Alice March 2, 2012 at 10:52 AM  

We all agree! I also love how different our reviews are.

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