June 21, 2012

The Night Circus

"Stories have changed, my dear boy," the man in the grey suit says, his voice almost imperceptibly sad. "There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case. There are no longer simple tales with quests and beasts and happy endings. The quests lack clarity of goal or path. The beasts take different forms and are difficult to recognize for what they are. 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. Good and evil are a great deal more complex than a princess and a dragon, or a wolf and a scarlet-clad little girl. and is not the dragon the hero of his own story? is not the wolf simply acting as a wolf should act?"

the Night Circus is about a traveling circus.... that (surprise!) is only open at night. it takes place at the turn of the 20th Century, so it felt very much like a Victorian version of Water for Elephants. it's a magical circus, with unexplained elements. (entire tents made of ice, it travels by train but hops from Europe to North America, etc) at the center of the story are 2 individuals who posses the magical powers that make the circus what it is. they've been trained their entire lives to be in competition with one another, but instead (surprise!) they fall in love. the circus was created solely to be the venue for their magical duels, but it grows to become something much more than that. people devote their lives to it, following it all across their continents. in the end, a decision must be made regarding the competition between the 2 magicians and the fate of the circus, and ultimately everyone connected to it.

i'm surprised to say i enjoyed this one as much as i did. it's a bit fanciful for my usual tastes, and the romance passages definitely had me rolling my eyes, but ultimately it's a well-crafted story with enough interesting elements to keep my more practical mind engaged. it was totally an exercise for my imagination, as the author created an incredibly detailed magical world that requires a little mental effort for it all to come to life. the visual elements are stunning to ponder and kind of begging to be made real, and partway through the first chapter i thought, "hmm, i wonder who's purchased the movie rights?" Surprise! Summit Entertainment did, the production studio that rocketed to fame with the Twilight movies. so i imagine i have a year or two to cast the movie in my mind and then see how the real version stacks up against my recently tuned-up imagination.


Megan Troxell said...

I started this just before Andy was born (as a real book) and haven't had time to finish it since all I can hold while nursing is my Kindle.

corrie said...

it's worth finishing once you have 2 hands free again!