The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (5 stars out of 5)
Lots of kids dream of running away to join a circus, though I can’t imagine how living with a circus troupe could be much of an improvement on most kids’ lives. However, I would love to run away and join the Night Circus Erin Morgenstern dreamed up for her novel. While most circuses are full of smelly, miserable, captive animals and an array of acrobats and unusual people displaying themselves as freaks for public entertainment, Morgenstern’s circus is full of magic and memories and imagination. In this fictional circus, the animals are trained, but act as willing partners in their tricks, and the people are on display because they perform amazing feats, not because they are furry or ugly or have extra nipples.
Of course, there are reasons why the Night Circus is so magically unique and wonderful, and those reasons may serve to destroy the circus and everyone who travels with it. There is a sinister underpinning to the impossible beauty and complexity of the Night Circus, one which may prove deadly for anyone who gets too curious or too close.
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me very much of the circus from Ray Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, a magical, ephemeral thing with powers that are truly enchanting even when they may also be a bit deadly. The beautiful film Mirrormask also comes to mind for its otherworldly magical circus, though the Mirrormask circus has more colors than the Night Circus (which is mostly a black and white theme). Hopefully Morgenstern will be writing more books along this vein in the near future.