This was a gift from a friend who thought I might like it.
I mean, I post about books filled with magic and mystery, beautiful sentences and entrancing storytelling, Victoriana, steampunk and futuristic imagination; worlds which are different and other and our own. What could he have been thinking?!
Yes, in case you didn’t pick up on my raging sarcasm there, this book was just perfect for me! It’s stunningly beautiful, and I’m not just talking about the enchanting cover design. The blurb doesn’t actually give much of a hint at all about what the narrative could be about, which fits in with the whole air of intrigue surrounding the story (so I’m not going to spoil it by telling you!). As a reader, you’re faced with the opening line and the appearance of the Circus – “The circus arrives without warning” – and you’re left to figure out what’s going on along with the characters. It’s just gorgeous, though, even while you haven’t got the foggiest what might be happening (again, much like circus-goers!); both in terms of the use of language and the skill of the author, and in terms of the evocative imagery used. Seriously, this book is food for the imagination – Morgenstern plays on all of the senses so skillfully that one might almost smell the caramel and feel the winter air. She makes use of strong sensory motifs which are important to the narrative and add to the experience of the book; the black and white with splashes of red on the cover is one such motif.
Really, this book is as much about the experience as about the story – again, very much like the circus itself. Going to the circus is an experience – it’s as much about the atmosphere, the location, the food, the company and the walking around as it is about the main show in the Big Top.
I’m not going to unpack the themes or my thoughts on this any more, because I want you all to experience it for yourselves. Instead, I’ll just sum up my feelings: this book left me breathless. The sheer genius of how the threads are all woven together is amazing; the writing evocative and artistic; the story filled with wonder and just a hint of darkness for spice.
Highly, highly recommended!