Monday, March 26, 2012

#BookReview: The Night Circus - Erin Morganstern

The first time I saw The Night Circus on the shelf at the library, I thought the cover was interesting enough, but didn't think it was the book for me.  I rarely read books based in fantasy, though I am a fan of movies and television based in fantasy.  Makes no sense, I know.  I think sometimes it's easier to suspend belief if I can actually see something rather than read about it.

At any rate, by the time I thought to read the book, all of the hard copies in the system were checked out, so I requested the audio version.  I don't know that I would have enjoyed the book as much if I had read it myself, but I can honestly say I was blown away by Jim Dale's narration.  As soon as I put the first CD in and heard his voice, I was drawn in.  For those unfamiliar with Jim Dale, he was the narrator of the short lived ABC show Pushing Daisies.  Listening to him was like sitting at the feet of a master storyteller.

The Night Circus magically appears without announcement.  For visitors to Le Cirque des Rêves, it is a magical place.  For Celia Bowen and Marco Alistair, it is the grounds for a competition they were entered into as children.  Bound to each other, and the circus, by Prospero the magician and Mr. A.H., Celia and Marco create elaborate tents, labyrinths, mazes, etc. to the delight of circus goers.  For them, it is a never ending game in which they try to one up each other.

Lest you think Marco and Celia are the most entertaining characters, rest assured that there are plenty of other characters that are just as, if not more, interesting.  Poppet and Widget, the Murray twins, born the night the circus first opened; Chandresh, the proprietor of the circus, who manages to assemble a fascinating group of advisers and architects of the circus; and Sukiku, the contortionist are an odd collective.  Even Bailey, a visitor to the circus, is drawn into their world in ways he could have never imagined.

Set initially in the late 1800s, The Night Circus, moves back and forth in time, so you have to pay attention to the beginning of each chapter to put things in perspective.  At first it was confusing, but once I realized that they were shifting through time, it was easy enough to follow.  Written in what has been described as 3-D form, readers and listeners will find it easy to visualize what the circus and its performers look like.  As I listened, I could see Sukiku and the others.  Part of that is due to the great narration of Jim Dale, but most of it is due to Morgenstern's great writing in this debut novel. Movie rights for the book have already been optioned and will be brought to the big screen by the producers of Harry Potter. I, for one, can't wait to see it.

Published: September 2011
Listening time: 13 hours and 39 minutes

Theme: Merci for the Speed of a Sad Clown in Summer by Sheila E.

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