Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Review: The Night Circus

I don't really know where to start with this review... I can't seem to find the right words to aptly describe my reading experience with the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Erin has an incredible grasp of the English language and her writing so clearly embodies quality writing; with a complex vocabulary that boasts words I thought were made up, yet she manages to keep me comprehending the story. If I were to describe this book in a single word, I would easily choose: phantasmagorical (yes, that's a real word). The imagery that she transforms into prose from her imagination is truly remarkable; the reader is transported to her fictional story places where you can practically smell the odors... feel the familiarity, comfort and atmosphere around you... and visualize the setting in great detail.

The book is composed of 5 parts, and each chapter is short enough that a commute to work (or home) is the perfect chance to read. Each chapter focuses around a specific storyline that, at the start of the book, seem like they couldn't be further apart, or are completely unrelated. But, as you progress through the book, you start to piece together these seemingly unrelated parts, into a single story that converges beautifully. I found that when I started reading, I had trouble keeping track of each storyline and characters I was reading or what date and year it was. It was as if each storyline was a distinct root of a tree and as the story progressed, you moved towards the trunk where the story comes together--piece by piece, branch by branch.

I have not had a quality read like this in many years. Most books are written simply (and that's not a bad thing) and quite to the point. Or, they're written in such a fashion that I can't seem to understand what is being said (now, this is often 'bad') or there is a suggestion context. The intricate story she creates in her mind and then weaves together through words is complex and solid. It takes immense skill to create these timelines and stories of characters and then entwine them together in a fashion that makes sense and enhances the reading experience. The book starts out slowly and you can tell because as you're starting, nothing really makes a lot of sense and you're given glimpses into where she'll take you. You're introduced to the main characters and fed some basic background about who they are and a little of the role they will play--you're given the premise on which the story will be built upon, but nothing more until it's appropriate.

In addition to her careful plotting of pieces together, she manages to create a shifting atmosphere and impression of what's happening, for the readers. I felt the beginning of the book to be far more dreamy, light and fluffy but as the book progresses, even these dreamy places felt heavy and darker... like something (someone?) was lurking in the shadows. And as you spiralled towards the climax of the plot, things come together hard and fast. The dream is turning into the reality and you have to start paying attention to what's happening or you'll be in big trouble because you won't be prepared!

The Night Circus is a fabulous read for anyone looking for something different to read or an escape from the ordinary. And don't be scared off by the girth of the book... you'll get through it much faster than you might think.

And before I forget...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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