My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The circus arrives without warning…
I believe that, whether we admit it or not, we all desperately desire to believe in magic. I’m writing this review moments after turning the final page of this book, and I am being one hundred percent truthful when I say I immediately wanted to flip back to page one and start again.
This wondrous, magic book set an enchanting spell on me, and I want it to last!
I probably won’t be able to gather my thoughts perfectly coherently, so here, in no particular order, are some of the things I loved about this book:
– the smells: the scents in this book were described so well (and all happened to be things that I love, coincidence? haha) that I felt I could actually experience them, the caramel corn, the cinnamon pastries, the beeswax candles…
– the enveloping magical world within the circus: somehow, Erin Morgenstern wrote a place that I now dream of experiencing. In the book, there is a group of people called the reveurs, who have become so entranced with the Circus that they follow it from place to place, never knowing where it might pop up next, or for how long. They dress all in shades of black and grey (because the circus is all in black and white, you know) with a pop of red. I would be one of these people.
– the colour-scheme: the black-and-white-ness of the Circus was so visually appealing! The book jacket says Erin Morgenstern is also a multui-media artist, and I really got a sense of the artist in her descriptions of colour.
– the amazing characters. Marco and Celia were engaging and incredible, but I also loved Poppet & Widget (and their kittens! New dream job: being part of the kitten act in a circus. Not joking!!), Chandresh and his midnight dinners, adorable fellow-reveur Bailey, and of course, Friedrick Thiessen, the clock-maker.
– (which brings me to:) the circus’s clock. How such a magical item can even be conceived of its beyond me, but this thing made its way into my mind as clear as anything. At one point, describing the clock, the book states that many mechanisms are at work so that the thing is in constant motion, and in fact an entire game of chess is played within the clock!! I mean, what?!? I loved it!
– the food. The food at the circus is amazing. They serve caramel corn, chocolate mice with licorice tails and almond ears, candied apples, and cinnamon twists. Practially every description of circus food made me hungry. I was salivating over these descriptions.
– the present-tense narration. This really made the book feel “real”. Everything IS happening right now, and as I was reading, I felt that I was becoming part of the story.
– the ingenious use of second-person narrative, in the interludes that popped up every so often. You are taken through various tents in the circus, one by one, and the details in those sections were just enough to make me feel like I really had experienced those things, and those places. It was perfect, because if you’re anything like me, from page one you were actually dying to go to the circus, and it was incredibly awesome of the author to let us experience that.
– the actual design of the book – I loved the black and white stripes inside the book covers, and the pages with the illustrations of constellations in the night sky. That was like the final straw that made this book just that much more awesome.
So… yes. I enjoyed this book through and through. The premise: a circus that is wonderful because, at its heart, it actually IS MAGICAL, was great. Then add a really great story to this setting, and you have a winner. I’m sure there’s tons more I will want to add later, but I want to absorb it all for a bit longer.
(And the ending. was. perfect.)
Seriously people, if you have read this and want to talk about it, let me know! I’m the only person I know who’s read it, and Himself was very politely tolerating my gushing about it (the chocolate mice! the black and white tents!) but until he’s read it I need someone to talk to ;)