4 August 2014

Dream Sequence: A Review of The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Safely kept in my locked box of banking, insurance and passport information is my Great Auntie Marge's bun recipe. Some people lock up their gold, I feel compelled to place a bun recipe in there. All this started with a dream Thursday night which no doubt was enhanced by the cold/sinus medication I swallowed before hitting the hay. For some odd reason that over-the-counter seemingly harmless sinus med caused havoc with my system and I spent the night locked in a bread-making LCD  enhanced world which has haunted me just enough for me to pull out the flour and yeast and go old school in my kitchen this morn.

Interesting how our dreams influence our actions and vice versa. In June, while visiting my mom, who subsequently made buns during my stay, I was recommended a book by my Aunt Kathy. After reading The Night Circus, I wonder if Erin Morgenstern was inspired by a dream that resulted in her debut novel? Some people bake bread after dreaming, others write books, to each their own.

Imagine waking to discover a circus comprised of uncountable peaks of black and white coloured tents set-up magically during the night in the park down from your house. As part of the panorama insert an intricate clock-work machine, iron-gilded gates and a fence designed to keep the circus's secrets secret until the magical hour of dusk. Visitors to this extravaganza leave the next morning haunted by their experiences, unable to express those moments in time to even themselves. They yearn that the circus will be there when they wake so they can slip back into the world of magic before it suddenly disappears maybe never to return to their town again.

The circus is clearly the star even though we follow
two young magicians clandestine to entwine. Because I am a magic junky at heart, I was quick to like Celia and Marco, however, with a couple of months behind me since reading it, I can barely remember either character, seemingly more smitten with the conceptual spine of the novel. Without the wonder of the circus the novel would have fallen flat. Morgenstern's style of writing, while fitting for the late 1800s in which the novel is placed, is too stylistic.  The words weigh the plot down, muddling the reader, making it difficult for us to believe in the fantastical aspects of the people. When I read fantasy, I lose myself in the world that has been spun, The Night Circus, while a fun read, did not leave me spellbound.

I am befuddled by The Night Circus.  It is a shame because I did enjoy reading it but am reluctant to give it my complete approval. While it may be harsh to compare it to Dunn's masterpiece, Geek Love, I feel that Morgenstern would have benefitted from what Katherine Dunn accomplished so convincingly, keeping her characters as human as possible in a world that was very much not.