The book in one sentence: A long-standing feud pits unsuspecting lovers against each other in a magical circus.Synopsis of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: 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 Reves," 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 per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats
My two centsThis book has been so hyped up and majority of book bloggers have raved this to the high heavens. I, being who I am, caved. I finally got my own copy and overall, I wasn't disappointed. But I can't in all honesty say that I loved this with all my heart.
I wanted to just love it in a huge big swoop. But my mind kept going back to two of my favourite reads that seem to be in the same genre: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel by Susannah Clarke and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (sure, my reviews were short and forgettable; but I do remember these boos as being among my favourite reads of 2009). I regained reason. While this Night Circus weaves its own magic, it pales in comparison to these two books.
First, what I did like:
2. If you like getting lost in languid descriptions, this is the "atmosphere" book to read -- detailed descriptions of contortionists and magical acts; gorgeous details about clothing and scenery; the odd and magical characters that the circus brought in (my faves: the redheaded twins of course!) ... yes, it all there and I found myself wanting to experience the circus because the world that Morgenstern has built is amazing.
3. The build up ... wonderfully done as layer upon layer of learning about two magicians and their longstanding feud, of getting to know Celia and Marco as single characters, then coming together, the details of how the circus and how it is conceptualized and eventually built. ahh, the build up really sets the stage ... but maybe that was its Achilles' heel.
The storyline and pacing: it kind of fell flat about three-fourths into the book. If you want a fast-paced and riveting page turner, this is not it. The circus was becoming quite tedious (especially since the descriptive writing didn't really change). The magical romance was losing its sizzle and the characters found the feud senseless, making the book lose its steam. I sort of lost interest.
As the ending was crucial to the existence of the circus, I had to finish reading! I had an inkling that Bailey would play a part, but things just went pfffft with the underwhelming and disappointing conclusion. I hated the ending.
Verdict: A magical romance that you will want and need to read languidly! Recommended reading, but please don't expect to be bowled over.