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The Book Review Club - The Night Circus

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Adult/YA Crossover

From the moment I began to listen to this story on audio until I finished, I couldn't classify it. A trip to Target - serious source searching - didn't help. The book was in the bestseller category with the other adult books, but toward the bottom where some YA and middle grade were. When I finally upped  my game and checked out the classification on Amazon, it's adult.

Yet, this is a book for all ages. I've encouraged my nine year old to read it because it's such a dreamlike adventure. Two magicians battle it out for their lives in a night circus that magically appears and disappears from location to location across the world.

This is the first circus I liked. I'm not crazy about clowns, or the whole circus venue in books or movies. There are exceptions, of course, Water for Elephants being one. It was more along the lines of gritty realism circus. This is dream circus without the scary factor that often seems to accompany that venue. The characters are gorgeously rich. The setting is magical. The plot is lusciously entwined.

The story is not told chronologically, which made the audio aspect to my "read" difficult. It will likely make the story difficult for a middle grade audience as well. What's more, I wasn't sure it was a necessary aspect to the story. It indicates the longevity of the challenge early on, but complicates the story's unfolding unnecessarily. The author could have revealed the backstory of the magician who had won a similar challenge earlier and thus introduced the complexity and longevity of the magical challenge in that way without complicating storytelling. However, these temporal fluctuations were not so off-putting that they derailed the circus story, just complicated it. Maybe that was the point. It's a complex plot.

Nonetheless, if you're searching about for a cozy, by the fire, dreamlike read, search no further. The Night Circus is just the winter ticket!