Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: The Night Circus (audiobook)

Title: The Night Circus (audiobook)
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Jim Dale
Genre/Date: Fantasy/2011
Audio Length: 13 hrs, 39 mins
Source: Audible purchase
My rating: 4.5/5

I really enjoyed Water for Elephants which is a book whose characters are part of the circus, so I figured another book about the circus would be of interest to me. However, The Night Circus is completely different. It is a magical, lyrical, and imaginative work with all the characters completely engrossed, enmeshed, and consumed by the circus called Le Cirque des Reves.

Its very soothing prose set to the melodic voice of Jim Dale lends itself to daydreaming about running away to the circus and forever living as either a circus performer or a spectator for eternity. In a world filled with black and white striped tents, ice gardens, and all sorts of chocolate sweets, Celia and Marco are set against each in a contest of magical abilities. Celia has been trained by her father, the famous magician Prospero, since the age of 5 after her mother committed suicide; Marco has been selected from an orphanage while a child to be trained by A.H., the "man in the gray suit". Neither of them fully understands the true meaning of this contest, either the rules of it or how one wins it. When they do realize the true meaning of the contest and what a folly it is, they must figure out a way to change it. They realize they are completely in love with each other, and cannot continue to be pawns in their teachers' game.

Some of the characters in this story are fascinating. I loved the red-haired twins, Poppet and Widget, who grow up in the circus as performers. They are honest, funny, and oddly mesmerizing. They have a wonderful relationship with a boy named Bailey who becomes entwined in the circus after a dare with his sister. This part of the story brings the circus to life and entices the reader to want to run and get tickets to the circus. Anyone would want to visit tents filled with clouds that you can fly from, wishing trees, or jars filled with the magic to transport you to places of extreme beauty.

As I was listening to this story, I was wondering where it was leading me. Part of me felt that this story was similar to Alice in Wonderland. In both of these stories, I thought that the authors were writing and following along where their imaginations rambled - that the plot of the story was not thought out in advance. I am probably wrong about this, but I could not help these thoughts from surfacing in me from time to time. Maybe this is what interests me about both of these books. 

I plan to visit this book again in the future. I will want to return to the innocent times during the late 19th century when the circus was one of the most entertaining places for both children and adults to visit.

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