Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern, 387 pages

One of the reviewers said this tale plays on the premise that Tolkien showed us so well: the world isn't big enough for two powerful wizards. A has-been wizard with the stage name of Prospero finds out he is the father of a small, quiet girl named Celia. Does he clutch her to his chest in surprised joy? Not exactly. He discovers she has magical powers superior to his own, and decides to pit her against Marco, the protege of his arch-rival, "the man in the grey suit."

Though this may sound
like Harry Potter, the writing style is more literary and the tone cool and menacing, more like Neil Gaiman. Celia and Marco have no idea that the "game" they are engaged in is a duel to the death. And it is only when they reach adulthood that they meet and eventually fall in love. Someone else has called this Romeo and Juliet for the Gilded Age, though most of the Shakespearean references are about The Tempest.

The setting moves back and forth from America to Europe, and from the late 1800's to the early twentieth century. Most of the story revolves around the mysterious the Cirque des Rêves, or Circus of Dreams. There is something a bit sinister about the Circus which "Opens at Nightfall/Closes at Dawn". It reminded me of the circus in Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. The slower pacing and complexity of the plot and characters are similar to Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, another story about rival wizards and the kingdom of the fey.

While I enjoyed the writing and the interesting setting, I didn't feel a emotional connection to the main characters. That could be because I had to rush reading the ending because there were people on the waiting list. This is still on the bestseller lists and has been optioned for a film.

Cate K.

No comments:

Post a Comment