Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.
I can't really explain why I liked this book as much as I did. Aside from its wildly imaginative plot and execution, the characters I loved weren't given even close to enough "screen" time and there were things that just did not make sense for me and never will--like the entire character of Marco, for instance. I didn't love him, and I'm sad to say I didn't even like him. When he tells Isobel that she ought to have more self-confidence than to let men like himself treat her like shit, I wanted to laugh out loud and ask the character if he could hear what he was saying. And the idea that the two of them, Celia and Marco, belong together merely because they are two halves of a whole etc. etc. makes me think back to the seemingly beloved The Tempest, which the book refers to time and again, in the text and as a quote at the beginning of one of the divided sections: Imagine if Shakespeare told us this about Miranda and Caliban. That's what it's comparable to to me. It doesn't work, and their instant passion in The Night Circus feels ridiculous, especially after a chapter she spend with Herr Thiessen actually getting to know him and like him (there felt like there was something there that the author then decided to jettison; his death is so quick and glossed over to an insane degree, since it's supposed to be so earth-shattering for Celia.) And let me say this right now: In my experience, you don't feel the insane urge to reaffirm life with a bout of passion after your closest friend dies; it just seems creepy.So, on my favorites shelf and five stars, but I've spent the whole review picking at it? But I did love the characters, and I loved the ideas behind it: I loved the fact that this great magical contest is just an endurance test between two magicians; the first one to basically be drained loses. And dies. There's something primal to that, and brutal, despite all the frosting put on top of it. And one of the last chapters, the exchange between Widget and Alexander, I think sums things up nicely, that Hector is basically in a purgatory of his own doing and Alexander is just so tired of going on--and on and on.So, there are things I profoundly loved about this book. And then things that let me down, like not even finding out what happens to some of the characters--do Ethan and Lainie marry? Yeah, good luck wanting to know that. The magic seems muddled in places (what exactly does Isobel do, and how does it affect the events that lead to Friedrick's death? I'm unclear on this.) But as first novels go, this one holds so much promise, it makes me burst at the seams to see what Morgenstern will do next!