Sasha’s Stranger Than Usual: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern Review

book cover
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Doubleday Canada- September 13, 2011
Hardcover
Fantasy/Romance/Magical realism
387 pages

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.


… .. .

Although the cover seemed to catch my eye with its tiny black and white striped tents resting in the palm of a pale hand against the backdrop of a dark, scattered starry night sky. And the summary made me go “oooh“, it was the first page that did it for me. I absolutely love it when the author shoves quotes or song lyrics in their books somewhere. This author didn’t disappoint in that department. What do I see when I open to the first page? Two quotes. One of them belonging to Oscar Wilde (I love him if you didn’t know..) and it went like this *clears throat dramatically* –

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Erin Morgenstern did good. She did real good.

What can I say about The Night Circus?

For one, it was enchanting. I think that is the loveliest, clearest way to describe my reading experience in one word.

Now I’ve never been to the circus. Never. I feel as if I’m being deprived. (Cirque du Soleil is probably wonderful, but…) With the wonderful descriptions of the circus and its workings in this novel, I got more than a pretty good idea. My actual expectations have skyrocketted.

Honestly? I felt as if I were an unnamed, unnoticed character thrust in the background of this place. I was caught in a mesmerizing web as I was swept up amd away in an adventure where magic seemed to exist at every turn. I’m gushing at the sheer mystical creativity of this novel. It was so easy to picture all these places that I’ve never been to so clearly in my mind that it was difficult to put down. Morgenstern somehow manages to beautify things that you couldn’t- or at least I couldn’t have imagined were possible, let alone imagined them.

The raw passion between Celia & Marco is heartbreaking as well as awe inspiring. The realness seemed to try to find its way out of the book. Sadly, I couldn’t let it. Could you imagine? The library would definitely have some questions. (I’m an avid borrower. I think the librarians are getting sick of seeing me. Too bad!).

All of the characters were surprisingly likeable- yes, even the annoying dickhead type characters. Though there weren’t too many. They all seemed to have their own kind of charm that breathed some life into them, even if they weren’t as important as others.

Nevermind the fact that I got a little confused as to what was happening and when. Obviously, I’m sure people actually pay attention to the dates given. After a while I figured that would be the smart thing to do. I catch on quick…

I honestly don’t think that I have one bad thing to say about this book. I absolutely loved it. So it really isn’t surprising to say that its going on my favourites list. How could it not? I’m giving this a 5 out of 5. Utterly fabulous.

If you haven’t realized yet, I’d recommend this to just about everyone. I may even shout it from the rooftops.

I’m not serious.

Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

If Erin Morgenstern (even her name sounds mystical for goodness sakes!) decides to write a second novel, if she hasn’t already, I hope that she sticks with the fantasy genre because she is totally kicking ass.

I’m serious. Seriously serious.

-S

Sasha’s Stranger than Usual: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin Review

Quick recap: I’m Sasha. I have an extremely healthy addiction to books, Marlon Brando and red lipstick of the bright variety.

And now that you know my life story [insert Oprah worthy applause and sympathetic laughter here], I want to welcome you to The Stranger than Usual Section . I will be spamming this part of the blog with my reviews specifically on the fantasy/supernatural/paranormal based genres that I’ve come across. Meaning the played out vamp scene that everyone loves to hate, the werewolves that remind you nothing of puppies and the magic you wish you had. (witches, fairies, etc..) So prepare yourselves because I always judge a book by its cover.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
Michelle Hodkin
Simon and Schuster Publishing – September 2011
Hardcover
Young Adult/Fantasy/Supernatural/Paranormal
452 Pages

Summary: Mara Dyer believes life can’t get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. There is. She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love. She’s wrong.

 My first victim would have to be The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer written by Michelle Hodkin. The title alone pinched me with curiosity, but the face of this book is what caught my attention right away (I warned you). With its darkened hues of greys and opaques, a girl floats under water with arms and legs wrapped around her tightly from behind. The book radiated mystery while the romantic in me was hoping for a little side dish of hearts in the eyes kind of lovin’. After skimming the synopsis and reading the first couple of pages, it didn’t take me long to whip out my library card.

As much as I adored the cover, I’m almost as much in love with the actual story.

Almost.

Where some parts of this book were fresh to the point of intrigue, it had a habit of teetering on the dangerously typical. The mystery begins when Mara wakes up in a hospital bed with no recollection of how she got there. It becomes known that she was the only one to survive death when the rest of her friends did not. The question, or at least I thought was how or even why? Now I doubt that I’m the only person who does this, but in films/television/novels when the plot takes a turn for obscurity, I point fingers and jump to conclusions until the truth gets a spotlight. Wide eyed, I’m practically falling over the edge of my seat when things get suspenseful. Luckily, that was part of the reason that kept me turning the page.

As promised, Mara finds a love interest in oh-so-delicious British accented, just rolled out of bed rich boy Noah. This is where the typical cloud hovers over them, raining mildly amusing dialogue.

“You told me I smelled – like bacon.”

“Well,” he said evenly. “That’s awkward.”

The description Michelle Hodkin managed to weave from her own imagination reached out and pulled me in, or at least that’s what it felt like; I could picture it so clearly as if I were there. It was fabulous. What invoked an eye roll was the eventual cheesy words spoken between Mara and Noah. I don’t know…teenagers talking about being together forever makes me cringe. The realist in me doesn’t get along with the romantic in me.

There were a few times that I had to backtrack because I was under the impression that I was reading way too fast and missed something important, but no dice. I assume all will be careful explained in the rest of the upcoming series. That way I won’t have to ask certain characters who the hell they are when they don’t speak back.

I give The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer a rating of 4 out of 5 stars because of my almost love. It was an interesting read, especially when the suspense is cooled. This book is not your ordinary paranormal adventure. It was refreshing, all out mysterious and passionate. I’m glad I bulldozed everyone in my way at the library to get to it. (I may be kidding). It was a fantastic attempt of the first in its series and I will happily be looking forward to the next installment. I highly recommend it.

Keep an eye out for the next in its series- The Evolution of Mara Dyer in fall of 2012.

-S