Book reviews are another one of those things I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while but, rather than try to add another additional activity onto my to do list a good compromise for the time being seems to use the occasional blog post to fulfil the function.
The Night Circus might seem an odd choice to start with – it’s not a new book, it’s not a particularly pagan book and it doesn’t lend itself readily to any particular genre or classification (other than ‘fiction’; probably ‘fantasy’). I had been peripherally aware of it, and heard amazing reviews of it, but it was just another on a very long list of books I intended to get around to reading at some point, until this time last year when a customer (who overall has broadly similar fiction tastes as me) insisted vociferously not only did I have to read it, I had to read it right away because it was absolutely an autumn book (we had been talking synaesthesia books, those of you following the blog will remember it coming up in that context previously).
Well, I was convinced (or terrified) enough to comply and I will be forever grateful that I did. It’s a genuinely beautiful book, satisfying a myriad of different fanatasy, historical, magical, steampunk and all-out-geek-friendly elements that made my little heart swoon throughout. There’s a remoteness to the central characters that’s intriguing without being off-putting, and as endearing a supporting cast as you could hope for. The unfolding of the story itself is equally well balanced – enough mystery to be engaging but enough drive to keep it from becoming infuriatingly stilted and drawn out (a particular peeve of mine, especially in crime stories). But yes, I think perhaps the most compelling aspect is the way it captures the atmosphere, the sights, the smells, the sounds, crisp autumn nights full of wonder and sensation, the energy of this time of year complementing the poignancy of the tale wonderfully.
I’ve never been the sort of person who wanted to run away to the circus, but I would follow this one to the ends of the earth.
(And even my mum, who’s ‘not really into that sort of thing’ also ‘quite enjoyed’ it which is about as resounding an endorsement as you’re likely to get!)
(And I would totally get behind a campaign to get the Phantomwise tarot into publication, I think it would be amazing)