Tag Archives: magical realism

The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) – Review

The night circus : a novelThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Age: Adult
Genre: Magical Realism / Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday, 2011
ISBN: 9780385534635
387 pages

Find this book at your local library

The circus appears without warning, mysteriously arriving in cities around the world for a span of 13 years starting in 1886. As the circus travels, it grows and develops more tents of illusionary magic to amaze all the viewers. Open from midnight to dawn, the circus is filled with an aura of magic that leaves the reveurs wanting more. At the center of the Cirque de Reves (Circus of Dreams) are Celia and Marco. Bound by a binding spell from their youth, Celia and Marco engage in a challenge, a show-off of skills and talents using the circus as the venue for their feats.

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it as other readers and bloggers have. As her debut novel, I think Erin Morgenstern did an amazing job creating this magical world and I look forward to her future endeavors. She created intricate and detailed characters in a world equally complex. There was a lot of character development over the course of the novel, which I always look for in books. The pacing was fantastic. Although a lot happened in each chapter, I never felt as if the story was rushed. This book was the perfect read for a rainy day, it definitely has that dreary and dark atmosphere throughout the entire novel. Perhaps because almost all the scenes take place in the middle of the night.

The setting was unique, but also reminiscent of Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I loved the struggle between the magicians, as well as seeing Celia’s and Marco’s relationship develop and evolve over time. I even found the ending to be appropriate, given the restraints and the anticipated outcome of the battle of skills between Celia and Marco. I loved Celia’s character for her strength, her vulnerability and her persona. Marco…I didn’t like as much. I found him manipulative, and not very trustworthy. The twins were a joy to read about, I wish there had been more time spent on them…perhaps in a future sequel to the novel?

What kept me from loving this book? Bailey, for one. I never understood his role in the novel. Why was he so special? Each chapter had a date and time, and the novel jumps back and forth in time before finally meeting together at the end. I found that confusing at times, because it often paused the flow of the novel while I skipped back chapters to check facts and make sure everything was still aligned (which it always was). The last thing that prevented me from loving this book was the vagueness of the rules of the challenge. The whole point of the challenge was revealed slowly over the course of the dozen or so years of the circus. It was frustrating for both Celia and Marco as they were kept in the dark as much as the reader.

I’ve heard rumors of this novel already being optioned for the big screen. I would love to see Edward Norton pick up the role of Marco, although I’m not sure who should play Celia.

Book 56 of 2011

I have a fondness for magical realism books, especially those involving magic and magicians. I’ve put together a list of titles that have a similar mood/theme as the Night Circus for those that want more of this genre:

BOOKS

Water for elephants : a novel  Vaclav & Lena : a novel  Swamplandia!

The autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb  Prospero lost   The man from beyond : a novel

Carter beats the Devil : a novel  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell  The art of disappearing

  1. Water for Elephants – Sara Gruen
  2. Vaclav & Lena – Haley Tanner
  3. Swamplandia – Karen Russell
  4. The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb – Melanie Benjamin
  5. Prospero Trilogy – L. Jagi Lamplighter
  6. The Man From Beyond – Gabriel Brownstone
  7. Carter Beats the Devil – Glen Gold
  8. Jonathon. Strange & Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
  9. The Art of Disappearing – Ivy Pochoda
  10. The Tempest – William Shakespeare
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The Book of Tomorrow (by Cecila Ahern) – Review

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecila Ahern
Age:Teen – Adult
Genre: fiction / magical realism
Format: Audio CD – Read by Ali Coffey
Harper Collins, 2011
ISBN 31197103871106
7 discs (8 hr., 25 min.)
 

Tamara Goodwin enjoyed living in the lap of luxury until the abrupt suicide of her father. Having lost her friends, house and all her possessions, Tamara and her mom go to live in the country with her aunt Rosalind and Uncle Arthur. One day, when looking through books in the traveling library, Tamara comes across a locked book with no author and no title. Once she manages to break the lock, she finds that the book is actually a diary, written in her hand for the very next day. Using this book that foretells the future as a guide, Tamara somehow pieces together a story bigger than herself, in an attempt to help snap her mother out of her catatonic state.

The book of tomorrow : a novelCecila Ahern is one of my favorite authors. I loved PS I Love You and No Place Like Here. Her works of magical realism are some of my favorites in the market. This book was no exception. I found myself really enjoying it, and listening to the story unravel. I would listen to the CDs in my car during my commute to and from work. Some nights its was hard to leave my car because I would stay until the disc ended just to hear what happened next.

Tamara’s character was incredibly annoying. rude and selfish at first, seriously, who screams in someone’s ear? Her character did grow on me towards the end. With The Book of Tomorrow, Cecilia Ahern did an amazing job of keeping the reader/listener in suspense as Tamara fumbled her way through the story trying to figure out the following:

  1. what was wrong with her mom
  2. how to cope with the loss of her dad
  3. the loss of her former life
  4. how to grow into a different, nicer person
  5.  and most importantly, to figure out just why Rosalind acted so strange and sketchy around her mother.

I found Rosalind’s character to be really fascinating and complex. Although, a bit of her appeal wore off once I found out her back-story. There were some interesting plot twists that I did not expect and some that I did expect, but still enjoyed nonetheless. There characters were well developed and I loved the country-side setting for the plot. Such a serene backdrop for such a tumultuous and two-faced events.

I think this book is aimed more towards the older teens that for adults. Although there is some foul language and talk of sex, there isn’t anything graphic in the text in that regards. I think older teens will sympathize with Tamara in many ways. For not being understood, for acting out and not knowing why, for wanting attention, for wanting love, for trying to solve a mystery on her own with no one believing her story.  

The narrator: 

Ali Coffey is a wonderful narrator. Her young voice is full of the animation, frustration and insensitivity that one would expect from a 16 year old rich girl. She really brought the character of Tamara to life and I think that gave the character more depth that she would have had in written form.

Find this book at your local library