February 6, 2012

The Night Circus and Salvage the Bones

I'm not sure exactly what prompted me to purchase The Night Circus for my Kindle, except that I remember finding the reviews interesting.  The Night Circus is indescribable; it's a fantasy, a dream-like story of romance, with plenty of humor and suspense thrown in.  It's a thoroughly entertaining read that I didn't want to put it down.  Erin Morgenstern writes eloquently about the surreal world of Marco and Celia, pitted against one another in a magical and fierce competition, and the cast of characters that each play a pivotal part in their story.  From the Amazon page: 
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. 
While plenty of magic occurs in the pages of The Night Circus, the compelling story seems so real that you find yourself pulling for the protagonists, all the while realizing that only one can win the competition.  

It was a hard to swing from the elegant prose and vivid imagery of The Night Circus to Jesmyn Ward's stark and gritty Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award.  The novel chronicles the days of a poor family living on the Mississippi coast in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.  While this book was a quick read, it was not an easy one.  Esch, the narrator, is fourteen and pregnant; her mother is dead, her father is an alcoholic, and one of her three brothers is stealing food and medicine for his pitbull's new litter of puppies.  There are some pretty graphic descriptions of dog fighting in the novel, which were hard for me to read.  Thin glimmers of hope shine throughout the novel, such as the community of friends that pull together after the storm, but these slivers of light are so fragile that I was left feeling depressed upon finishing the novel.  It's well-written and deserving of the praise it has received, but it's not a book I would choose to read again.

1 comment:

  1. The author excels at capturing your imagination by creating a world where everything is possible and everyday things can be magical! I have never read another book quite like it; it is uniquely wonderful! The story has elements of romance, mystery, and the paranormal which blend together seamlessly. Because of this, I would recommend it for book clubs of all fiction genres, and also to anyone who is eager for something original!