I tried reading The Night Circus shortly after it was published, and though I liked it, I couldn’t get through it. I think I stopped around the two-thirds mark. I’m not sure why. This time, I had the benefit of more passive reading: an audiobook. I guess it was worth the time I spent listening to it, though I can’t say I’m a fan. I think The Night Circus was what I expected, a whimsical sort of fantasy, but it was also more of a romance than I like. I was hoping for another Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, but sadly, that’s not what The Night Circus is.
It’s about a challenge between two magicians. They each choose a child – one, a magician’s daughter, Celia; the other, an adopted boy, Marco – and teach said child magic. Once Celia and Marco are grown and trained, the magicians set up a circus as a stage for the competition. Celia and Marco think it is a contest of skill, but that turns out not to be the case. They end up falling in love, which complicates things. Meanwhile, Bailey, a teenager, is dared by his sister to visit the circus, which is only open at night, during the day. He accepts the dare and climbs over the fence, and he meets a girl about his age named Poppet, who gives him a glove to take back as proof that he went inside. Years later, the circus returns, and Bailey goes in search of Poppet, ending up much more entwined in the circus than he ever thought he would be. Things, of course, Happen.
I think I liked reading the book more than I did listening to it. Some sections are told in second-person, describing the insides of tents and other possible experiences at the circus. Having someone reading the book to me colors those experiences differently than I might on my own. Which might be my problem with most audiobooks – I might as well be watching a movie.
The book is well-written, and the descriptions of the circus are beautiful. I enjoyed most of the characters, and I liked the complexity of the story. That said, I wasn’t entranced like the first time I tried to read it. Maybe it was the puppy on the end of her leash, pulling me around, that distracted me.
The Night Circus is worth a read, though I think I would have liked it more without the romance. Celia and Marco’s falling in love seemed less realistic than the rest of the novel. It’s a sort of Romeo and Juliet type of instant love that just didn’t register with me. The rest of the novel, though, I enjoyed.
I’ve begun the massive DC-photo-upload on Flickr. Here are a couple of the highlights so far:
I really need to finish that project before I forget about it entirely.