Saturday, March 31, 2012
The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
There were parts that I really took to. The opening chapters found a way to hook me in, short and tantalizing as they gave hints about the bigger story. The descriptions of the Night Circus, though not quite literary thaumaturgy at work, still helped me visualize Celia and Marco's world. But what of the rest? The book set the stage for a battle, but all I got was akin to foreplay. Celia and Marco were two people caught in a game not of their own shaping, but I didn't really feel them struggling against their bonds. In fact, they took to their kind of prison quite well -- and if the romance is any indication (not a spoiler to anyone who reads the book blurb before purchasing), they even welcomed it in a way -- so I felt the book did not have a central driving conflict behind it. I found myself interested in the characters but not really caring for them one way or the other, and I sincerely hope that it was my failing as a reader that led me to that conclusion.
Then there was the chronology. Events were chronological enough, but between their chapters was the story of Bailey (and the circus twins Poppet and Widget), which progresses separately at first but eventually ties in to the others. I would have been fine with it had it not been for some moments when the stories approach each other closely but never connect; I found it hard to jump between teenage Poppet and Widget in the Celia/Marco storyline and then back again to the Bailey one. It made my reading experience somewhat disjointed and from then on I could never really recover whatever magic The Night Circus was promising. When the story ended, I found myself drawn Bailey and the twins marginally more, even though they only appeared in a third of the book. It left me strangely empty, as if the experience of reading it had been as illusory as the magicks in the Night Circus.