Night Circus Review: A Literary Indulgence
Book attained at the Random House Booth at BEA: Thanks for providing a copy of this spellbinding novel!
(I’m striving for more concise reviews btw!)
This book is a hard one to pin down because describing my enjoyment of it relies upon so many ineffable adjectives, or just adjectives of awe that might be a bit too overblown for a professional review of any sort. Additionally, it doesn’t fit any genre specification perfectly; it majestically transcends genre markers. More importantly, the story has a sense of lightness and a lack of melodrama; it consists of another type of literary substance; an appeal to rich aesthetics or the sensory experience of viewing an shadowy circus through the light of different eccentric perspectives. What does this “dark circus” that is hardly cavernous have in store for us? How does one read a book, where the setting itself becomes its own mysterious character set in the same enigmatic shadows as its crew of colorful characters?
Its a very difficult book to evaluate for this reason because I kept wondering why particular characters felt a bit detached from the narrative. This is a completely different type of story that relies upon mystery to keep us entranced with the whole awe-inspiring sight of the interior and exterior of the circus. There are many auxiliary characters in the story who further add more depth to the mystery of the novel. Creatively, the whole book is assembled not as your standard sleuth mystery, but one of inquiring about the purpose of this circus, and why are the two main characters being forced into a fierce magician duel. More importantly, Why are we not yet seeing their romance become spontaneously consummated like many other novels with romantic elements? (The author is so good at tastefully developing this very rich romantic subplot) The book is slow with this evolution, but it never becomes tedious. Its not drudgery at all to read about the dizzying descriptions of the circus’ attractions, or the Midnight Dinner that reads like something out of a Lemony Snicket novel. Essentially, the whole book felt like a rich, impressible experience of being so dazzled with the sights of the circus that it was sometimes hard to completely pinpoint the seemingly invisible moments of character and plot development. This is not a criticism,rather its praise for a novel that separates itself from the pack of novels that are so clear about fulfilling certain quotas for how the standard novel works. Conversely, this novels engulfs us with its air of rich mystery, and it becomes a fairy tale filled with artful imagery and very mysterious, yet endlessly intriguing characters.
Wonderfully, this book is an unconventional departure from the known formula of books that must have a specified climax. It is nonlinear, and it can be crushingly disorienting at moments.At the same time, the task to try to discern the story is part of the fun, as we are overstimulated by the well-written descriptions of this whimsical circus. I really loved the novel as a whole, and just greatly appreciated the author’s bravery in doing something different and achieving a novel that subtly develops a deep sense of richness of its universe. This novel will slyly effect you, by having you dream long dreams of mysterious circuses and puzzling clocks that are illustrative of the hidden complexities of this novel. If you are desirous of a book that is so different that it might turn off some people who are strict fans of the conventional novel, I highly recommend it then to those courageous people who are unafraid of something so unconventional that you’ll long be suffering a deep, burning desire for the dream of the Night Circus to become manifest in our own reality.
Side Note: Weirdly enough, the book reminded me of one of my favorite Tim Burton film’s, Big Fish, in the way that the story reads like a modern fairy tale. Some people might scoff at fairy-tales, but I find that I need them because they are a very refreshing reprieve from the many books that can be far too depressive. I love those novels, but sometimes we need some fairy-tales to give us an ounce of levity and mystery to our mundane lives.