The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I read this book as a part of the Sword and Laser Book Club on If you’re interested in science fiction and fantasy,I highly recommend it!

This book is not what I would normally read. It seemed to be a bit steampunk, which is not my thing. However, it had magic, which I like, so I thought I’d give it a try. Plus, I was able to borrow it as an ebook from my library!

The book is about two kids who are the players in a contest of magic. The circus was created as a sort of  game board or arena for the contest. The players are not aware of each other initially, but as you can imagine, as the game goes on, they do become aware of each other, and that’s when things get more–not complicated, but more emotional. I won’t say too much more on that for fear of spoilers. 🙂

Anyway, the setting is a turn of the century circus, that only appears at night. It appears without warning, and leaves without warning. The time line of the story shifts between the two players and the creation of the circus, and a young boy named Bailey, who becomes a fan of the circus in the near future. The timelines come together, eventually. I found myself going back to the heading of each chapter to make sure that I remembered what time line I was reading, but that got easier to follow as I got used to the story.

The other interesting thing about the book was the use of tense. As I’m sure is the case with many people, I am used to reading stories that are told in the first or third person, usually in the past tense. This story is told in the third person, but in the present tense. It took a bit of getting used to, but I didn’t find that it was distracting. There are also “interludes” that are told in the second person present tense. I could have done without those interludes, but it wasn’t bad.

While I thought the story itself was interesting, the setting was not.  As I stated at the beginning, this felt like steampunk to me, and the time period isn’t one that I find compelling or interesting. I know that I am probably using the term “steampunk” incorrectly or loosely, but that’s what came to mind as I was reading.

It seemed as though the author was going for a certain mood, and for certain imagery, not necessarily for developing the characters. I didn’t feel as though I really knew the characters. I knew what happened to them, but it would have been nice to have gotten into their heads more, to see more of the toll that this contest had on them. I wish that my opinions about the book were a bit less scattered and unfocused, but this one was a little bit harder for me to get my head around.

I would only recommend this book to people who like this particular time period, and are not heavily into epic fantasy.

Lillypad Rating: LilyPadLilyPad out of 5


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