By Erin Morgenstern
This book should have been everything to me – a spooky circus and a sorcerous battle set in the Victorian Era – but it was just so damn boring. It started strong with the hoary old magicians selecting unaware students to continue their contest of skills, and then building the titular circus to serve as the staging ground. Once the circus is up and running with the young magicians showing off their respective skills in increasingly elaborate exhibits, the novel really bogged down in endless descriptions of amazing and whimsical spectacle.
I really wanted to like this book because it has shown up on so many people’s best book guides, but the vast majority of the book is physical descriptions of settings both in the circus and out, and I find those extremely tiresome. Kinsey, who has read and enjoyed it, recommended approaching it like a poem, but I mostly don’t enjoy poetry either. There was just enough intrigue to keep me from giving up on the book entirely, though I kept interrupting it in order to read other books, and the action finally begins in the final 20% of the book.
I will say that the end is very good, but I just don’t think it was worth quite the level of build-up it got. While I sure would like to actually visit the night circus and see it all for myself, reading about it got old really fast.