I really wanted to like The Night Circus. It had all the pieces-a mysterious circus of dreams, competing magicians, a love story. At least, that's what the back of the book tells you. The only thing that was good about this book was the image of the circus it evoked, and the similarly mysterious but very chic Midnight Dinners hosted by the circus proprietor Chandresh.
But that's all there is to it. How real magic operates in this universe is never specified, to the point where something intended to be mysterious just comes off as vague. Especially when the main tension of the plot is a magical competition between two young novices, Marco and Celia, pitted against each other without their consent by their mentors, who I think are supposed to subscribe to different forms of magic, or different approaches to magic..I can't really tell you, because I was never told myself. Too much was lacking in this story, for the sake of pretty words.
There's no chemistry: The supposedly star-struck lovers almost never see each other. They have no reason to get together, other than that the book demanded it of them. There's no sizzle on the page, and romantic, dramatic scenes are hollow and empty, without feeling a bond between the characters. Not to mention, there's the slight problem of the girl Marco has been living with for over a year, who he seems to like, but then ignores-that did not endear him to me at all. Their supposed romance doesn't even have the backdrop of the magical brinkmanship I was led to believe the book was about, because they don't view each other as competitors. It's their tutors who are at war. Given the eye-rollingly obvious homages to The Tempest, my guess is the author was going for the love-sickness of Romeo and Juliet, but Shakespeare this girl is not, and the few lines dedicated to the romance plot are empty. But without that, there is no plot, so....
The book's narrative is occasionally non-linear, and sometimes years pass (or so I'm told, but since nothing ever changes I find that hard to believe), and it's very hard to see an urgency in this competition. It is too subtle-we are told the stakes are high, but it could take forty or more years to complete? And the players (and by extension, the reader) don't even understand the game they're destined to play? I was hoping for something more like The Prestige. Now those mofo's hated each other, constantly compelled to one-up each other. That's what this book needed: a real sense of competition, and of development, both of plot and character. There was a potential story between the senior magicians, Prospero and Alexander, but that's not the story we're told. Lots of potential and imaginative concepts were lost on this paper thin plot, where even the mains felt like extras. That's how shallow and flat they were.
K Rating: 4/10
**New Author Goal: 10 out of 30**
# 8 was Ilana C. Meyer's Last Song Before Night. I didn't review, because I didn't finish. It dragged.
#9 was The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. Want a review? Pretentious, metaphysical, self-important bullshit. There you have it.