This is the fantastical story of a magical circus that appears in towns for a few days, runs only at night, and features only the very best performers. Morgenstern has an amazing imagination, and has created a truly beautiful idea. I really, really want to go to her circus.
The story begins with two children, sworn into a pact of a competition of magic by their guardians. The circus is invented, we meet the performers, we enjoy descriptions of its tents. It’s lovely. The two children are trained in the skills of magic in order to be pitted against each other in a deadly duel, involving everyone around them.
I do not award stars on my blog, because often there are things I like and things I don’t like about a book, and summarising my feelings on several hours of reading into a score of 1 to 5 is too difficult for me. The odd thing about this book is that in theory it’s fabulous, but in practice, I could only read ten pages or so in one go before getting a bit bored. It is well-written, and has a fast pace. There are quite a lot of characters, and although I followed who they all were, I struggled to empathise with any of them, did not care much for the romance, and did not particularly care if they lived or died.
This is Morgenstern’s first novel, and as I write this blog, I am part way through a masterpiece from a writer on his 30-somethingth novel. Whenever I read first novels it always brings home to me the importance of practising of your craft. A writer can have a wonderful imagination, and some brilliant ideas, but it is a very rare occurrence for a first novel to be the best.