I hate hearing bad reviews. When I hear about a book or see a potentially promising cover, the first thing I do is go to Goodreads & read reviews. I don’t just read reviews, I scan for the worst ones. I’m talking, one star reviews where people can broadcast all the book’s flaws & say it was the biggest waste of money & time they ever spent. Then I weigh their opinions & ask myself if their problems would be similar to my own if I read this book. Sometimes just one bad review can deter me from buying.
That’s what happened with The Night Circus for the longest time. I never bought it because I’d read one or two horrible reviews & chalked it up to a book I’d never want. I’m so happy I changed my mind.
I must’ve heard a friend recommend it or saw a post on Pinterest about it, but I’m so happy I did. But then even once I bought it, I kept it on my TBR shelf. It sat there for weeks before I even picked it up to look at the inside cover.
Then I read it & discovered this book was perfect for me. I love lavish descriptions & I fully support a book if I immediately fall in love with the world even if the characters are a little flat. The story centers around Celia Bowen & Marco Alisdair, two magicians locked in a competition to out do the other in the form of magical additions to a traveling circus. Primarily set in Victorian London, the two characters don’t actually meet until a decent ways in the novel. The magic is less of a dual & more of a chess game. The two magicians are being coached by their parental figures who have had a long held rivalry against each other.
The real story is in the setting itself. The circus is like Disney if Disney were drunk, kind of steampunk, & actually magical. It’s described as both dangerous & tempting, & the main goal is to place the reader into the crowd. Certain sections begin with little set ups that directly address the reader as one of the circus goers. This is the ultimate book for escapist readers. The color scheme is what you see on the cover & the descriptions supply you with every smell from firewood to chocolate. Just reading an excerpt or two should entice anyone to buy this thing.
The reader is kept at a distance from the characters, so we never really get fully in their heads, but I liked that. It reads more like a fairytale this way. I also have a thing for Tim Burton & since this book has been compared to his movies maybe this subconsciously made a difference? But the book didn’t even seem that Tim Burton-esque to me. It seemed more like a toned down, slowed down Baz Luhrmann film at times. Think maybe Rob Marshall. Either way, it definitely should be made into a movie.
Many other reviews left me discouraged before reading because they talked about the lack of romance. But I thought the romance was fine! The romantic sections fit within the context of the story completely. My only complain was the bit about one of the side characters at the end. It seemed Morgenstern was trying to give this character more significance than it was worth, & the use of the character was unnecessary.
This is one of those books I wouldn’t mind reading over & over. With a big box of chocolate. & a big bottle of wine.