Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Night at the Circus

Image taken from

"Inside, the tent is dark-walled with an immense, iridescent white structure in the center.  Baily can think of nothing else to call it.  It takes up the entirety of the tent save for a raised path along the perimeter, a winding loop that begins at the tent entrance and circles around.  The floor beyond the path is covered with white spheres, thousands of them piled like soap bubbles...The tower itself is series of platforms swooping in odd, diaphanous shapes, quite similar to clouds.  They are layered, like a cake.  From what Baily can see, the space between layers varies from room enough to walk straight through to barely enough to crawl.  Here and there parts of it almost float away from the central tower, drifting off into space."- The Night Circus, pp. 200-201

Some books, like The Hunger Games, are a sprint to the finish, pages quickly turning to reach the thrilling conclusion, to know what happens next.  Others, like most everything by P.D. James, are a lovely stroll though the countryside.  The last one took me three whole weeks to read, which is a long time by my standards. 

Then, there is The Night Circus.  How can I describe it?  It is a delight to all of the senses, a kind of ramble through a Willy-Wonka-esque wonderland.  I'll admit that it took a few chapters to hook me in, as the shifting narration style was a bit off-putting at first.  Quickly though, I was torn between not wanting to put the book down and not wanting it to end.  

The plot was fine and held together despite requiring a small suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader.  But that was beside the point.  This book was truly magical.  I felt as though I was present at the circus, taking in every wonder and joy along with the patrons.  When attempting to describe to to my husband, the only comparable book I could think of was The Time Traveler's Wife, but even that comparison didn't feel quite right. 

I realized a few days later that a more accurate comparison would be to The Phantom Tollboth by Norman Juster, one of my all-time favorite books.  I am a highly visual reader, and both that book and The Night Circus have created indelible images in my memory.  There are so many books out there that I would like to read, yet I would read this one again.  From me, that is perhaps the ultimate compliment I can give.


  1. I just finished it. I may read it again right now.

    1. If mine hadn't been a library book, I might have already re-read it.