The Night Circus

Now that I have no exotic travels to write about (recent ones, anyways) I guess it’s back to ordinary blog posts for me!  Time to exercise my writing skills and make the mundane seem interesting.

In some parts of the country, I’m sure autumn proper has set in- changing colors on trees, crisp weather that begs for cozy sweaters and cups of warm cider to make their appearance again.  Here in Southern California, we really only have two seasons- summer, and not-quite summer.  Admittedly, some days of winter are pretty cold, but those periods are few and few between.  For a while it seemed as if the weather was cooling off a little, but then Mother Nature changed her mind and we’re enjoying a rare 90 degree spell.  Normally I’m all for warm weather- I’ll pick blazing heat over freezing cold any day- but since this weather is not normal (stupid global warming) I’ll just be only a little bit happy.

A recent book I read was The Night Circus, which garnered a lot of hype, with reviewers calling it an heir to the Harry Potter throne (Honestly, people think that anything that has magic will be a surefire hit with Potterphiles.  False.)  I went into it with some expectations, almost against my will, as I am often loathe to jump on bandwagons and do what everyone else is doing.  Note that I say “often,” as I am not hipster enough to say that I never follow fads.  Luckily it did live up to the hype, and then some.

However, I’m torn about this book.  On the one hand, Morgenstern is one of the best writers I have ever read in terms of writing style.  If I could describe her style in a few words,it would be these:

  • delicious
  • luscious
  • exhilirating
  • enchanting

I could almost feel myself experiencing the things described on the page.  The way she describes the colors, the smells, the tastes, the sights- it left me giddy and excited, wanting more with every page.  I would reread certain passages just to absorb and savor every word, almost like slowly eating a favorite food to better enjoy the flavor, rather than cramming it all in your mouth because it’s so good.  Favorite descriptions included fashion and food (weirdly enough, even if I don’t really remember certain books all that well,  specific scenes with food often stick in my mind.  I’m apparently crazy about culinary descriptions in literature.)

But the love story (and it is billed as a love story, so I’m not spoiling anything) left me wanting.  I’m a sucker for romantic stories, and it’s really not hard to make me cheer/weep/sigh for a couple in a book or movie.  I have very low standards for a satisfying fictional romance, as cheesy or obvious as the plot might seem.  But in The Night Circus I felt like the relationship between the two main characters wasn’t developed enough.  You’re introduced to them, their situation, and then all of sudden you’re told they have been nursing a passionate love for a long time.  The development of their relationship was given very little time in comparison to the other subplots (even though it’s supposed to be the focal point of the novel) so that at the end, it all felt very rushed.  Actually, I was a little confused.  “This is it?” I asked myself when I finished.  I didn’t cry, I didn’t squeal with delight, I just sat there, a little bemused.  The ending was OK, but definitely not the swoon-worthy finish I was hoping for.

Don’t read it if you want a cheesy tearjerker.  Don’t read it if you want Harry Potter-levels of magic.  There is definitely magic involved, but it is more delicate and intimately applied than the in-your-face, omnipresent magic of Harry’s world.  Don’t read it if you don’t like long descriptions of things like a cup of hot chocolate and a bag of popcorn and a woman’s ballgown.  But DO read it if you appreciate descriptive writing, read it if you like your romance warm and fuzzy but not too overbearing.


2 thoughts on “The Night Circus

  1. I loved the Night Circus. I cannot wait to see what this author comes out with next. I’m also in So Cal and mother nature seems to be extremely confused as to what the season is. Like you I usually live for the heat, but thanks to medications causing hot flashes I have been awaiting the cooler weather (never thought I’d say that). I’m hoping a ridiculously hot summer does not mean an extremely cold winter. I kinda like that Cali doesn’t do seasons. Makes getting dressed in the morning easier.

    • The rights to make The Night Circus movie has been bought- who knows if they’re ever going to film it, but I would definitely see go see it! And yes, dressing for this hot weather is so much easier than winter! Only one or two layers to worry about 🙂

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