Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 Reviewed by Christina

Published:  2011

It's about: I went into this one knowing almost nothing about it, and I loved the experience of discovering the story from scratch.  Plus, all the synopses I'm finding online are really cheesy.  So I'm not going to tell you anything about the story except that it's about a circus that only operates at night and there's lots of magic involved.  There's more to it, but you've got to read/listen to find out!  Aren't you soooo curious now?

I thought:  Oh, how I enjoyed this audiobook!  It's not the kind of fantastical story I would normally choose for myself, but I had heard it mentioned here and there and wanted to find out what all the fuss was about.  Ambient music hooked me from the moment I hit play, and when the story started Jim Dale kept the mood perfectly.  Listening to him read this book is like listening to a classy British Grandpa tell an intricate bedtime story.  And he doesn't make any of the females sound squawky or breathy or weak; I appreciate that.  I loved listening to him.

Overall, the imaginative nature of The Night Circus wins.  Erin Morgenstern's imagery also rocks; I was continually impressed with the multitude of creative ideas in this book and the vivid, artful way those ideas are described.  Ms. Morgenstern populates her circus with unusual, interesting supporting characters, many of whom turn out to be more important than you initially expect.  Their unexpected significance was something I especially enjoyed toward the end.

I do wish the central love story had been more gradually constructed, maybe through a little more character development with those two main characters.  And I never did come to enjoy the frequent forays into 2nd person; I think the "you" perspective is a pretty weak and hackneyed way to try to force the reader into the story.  Overall, the plot didn't blow me away and there weren't strong themes I could extrapolate and apply to life in general. 

BUT!  Don't let my criticisms stop you from picking up The Night Circus, especially if you like a bit of magic in your fiction. 

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf!

Reading Recommendations: Check it out if you enjoyed The PrestigeThe Night Circus takes place during the same period and sorta shares some basic plot elements.

Warnings: One very brief and tasteful sex scene.  Nothing to deter even the most conservative reader.

Favorite excerpts: “And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister's story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”

“Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.” 

What I'm listening to nextThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake