Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Night Circus

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book club selection for my "other" book club. I didn't want to read this book..."Not another circus book (groan)." I had read Water for Elephants a few months ago, and I didn't think I was ready for another story about elephants, tigers and trains. Besides, I wanted to introduce some of my "other" friends to black authors.

But once I started reading, I realized, this is not another circus book. It's more about magic and illusion, and a contest between two old dudes. Prospero the Enchanter, and his old nemesis "The Man in the Grey Suit," begin another challenge involving Prospero's newly discovered daughter and a young man plucked out of an orphanage by the mysterious Mr. H. Neither child knows who their opponent is, and it is never said what exactly the challenge is. Some reviewers have likened Marco and Celia to Romeo and Juliet, two star-crossed lovers. On the contrary, I think of them more like Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in the old "Trading Places" movie. When Murphy and Aykroyd's characters discover how their lives have been manipulated for a contest, they get even with their old dudes. Just as in The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peetah suddenly remember who the enemy is.

The circus is the playing field, a chess game where most of the other characters are merely pawns. It's a quirky story with performers who cross the line from illusion to real magic, or is it witchcraft. And a movie is in the works. I give the book four stars.

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