Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: September 13th, 2011
Billed as one of the must-read books of the fall, The Night Circus has been read and discussed by so many bloggers that I feel like my review will easily be passed over. I don't blame anyone, as I can't say I don't do the same sometimes with the more popular books at a given moment. However, the difference between my review and the many others out there is that mine will not be as glowing. If that has caught your attention then feel free to continue on or stop, whichever the case may be. I'm foregoing the posting of a summary, but if you have never heard of The Night Circus you can check out the synopsis on Goodreads.
Let's start out with the negative and get that out of the way. Not only was I greatly anticipating reading this book, but it was also my book club's October pick, so I had an excuse to read it sooner than I might have otherwise. Unfortunately, when I turned the last page I couldn't help feeling a little duped. Basically, I was a victim of all the hype and marketing surrounding the book, and I fear that my expectations were raised so high that they would never be met no matter what words lie between the covers. Where were the epic romance and the fierce battle promised on the jacket copy? For the most part the plot dragged in the middle, and I wish there had been more action to propel the story forward. The novel could have benefited from a little more focus and explanation of the origin of the competition between Hector and Alexander - not because I didn't understand the material, but because I think this would have integrated the necessary conflict more easily.
I will give credit to Morgenstern for her writing ability, especially considering this is her debut novel. While some of the descriptions were a little too long-winded to keep my full attention, I did feel that setting as well as the atmosphere depicted created quite a magical reading environment. The second person inserts definitely help immerse the reader in the circus. One of my favorite passages concerns the idea of storytelling:
Someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it because of your words. That is your role, your gift.While I wasn't as blown away as many reviewers, I did come away entertained. The book fit in quite nicely with the entrance of fall and the cold, crisp nights. Overall, I recommend The Night Circus hesitantly in the hopes that others will lower their expectations before diving in. I wish I had known to do the same.