Monday, November 07, 2011

The Night Circus -- Erin Morgenstern

Now and then a book that might be published as a big fat fantasy without anybody quibbling about it manages to avoid that label and get published as a mainstream novel to great acclaim. That's what happened with Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, which is about two old magicians who decide to bet on which of their pupils can get the better of the other. Will it be the one who has inherited magical powers or the one who's been carefully taught?

Make no mistake here. The magic is real, though the magicians have to pretend it's just legerdemain in order not to frighten the public. With real magic, anything is possible, so we get a story of escalating marvels. And since the pupils are male and female, we get a love story, too.

The Night Circus is full of characters and incident, but Morgenstern's style is clear, and the story flows in short chapters. My friend George Kelley found this book tough going, but I found it fairly entertaining. Even at that, I'm not sure why it's getting such a big push when I find other fantasy novels (like just about any fantasy by Jack Vance) that are more compelling are shoved off into the genre ghetto. I guess that's just the way of the world.

5 comments:

Kelly Robinson said...

I've seen this, and was attracted by the old cut-paper cover style, but didn't look beyond that. The story sounds great. Loved Priest's 'The Prestige.' A blog post on magicians in fiction might be on order.

Bill Crider said...

I hadn't thought about it, but there's a kinship with THE PRESTIGE. I'll let you start that blog.

Richard R. said...

I've read several (more than 3) reviews on this one and none of them liked it much, saying it's poorly written and plotted. I think it's over-hyped.

George said...

I much prefer THE CIRCUS OF DR. LAO by Charles G. Finny just out in a new edition from University of Nebraska Press.

Espana said...

This book was like no other I have ever read! I couldn't put it down. I was a bit confused with the ending, but other than that, it was great!