Archive | September, 2011

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

14 Sep

I know you’re a faithful bunch, readers. But I also know you’re busy. And there’s Facebook and Twitter to check. So let me summarise this for you…

Reasons to read this review: 

1. The author is being dubbed ‘the new JK Rowling’. Oh yes.

2. The film rights have just been snapped up Summit films (of Twilight fame)

3. It was the subject of a whopping 7 figure bidding war…

Hmm?? Interested yet? Much? 

Here’s the story…

Towards the beginning of the year, I was just finishing up a meeting with some of the publicists at Random House when a mysterious looking proof was pressed into my palms. A black jacket littered with silver stars, it had just three sentences on its cover:

“The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it. 

It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

I’ll be honest – it pretty much had me there. I was sold. Sold on the mystery, the sparkly little stars and the contagious excitement of the publicists. I often hear ‘this book is going to be the next huge thing’, but with this one… I just believed it. Call me a sucker for good marketing and a pretty cover, maybe, but there was something about the premise that struck me as unique and yet classic at the same time.

This book is going to be massive.


Morgenstern’s debut is the story of the Cirque des Reves, a mysterious travelling circus that becomes an international fin de siecle sensation. But as you may have guessed, this is no ordinary circus. It’s black and white tents hide unbelievable attractions; a beautiful garden set in a permanent snowy winter, a vertiginous cloud maze, a room of bottled-up scents that have the power to take you back to your childhood, a carousel with animals so real you can feel them breathe…

Basically, if you take the Water for Elephants big top  as your base, you’ll need to whack the intrigue factor up a good couple of notches, add a sprinkle of ghostly mystery, thrown in the unsettling dizziness of tight-rope walking and slosh in a whole gallon of dark magic… and then you’re only getting close.

The spectacular circus attractions draw in visitors from all over the world, including the reveurs (dreamers),  a group of aficionados who dress in black and white with a dash of red for recognition. But what none of the audience realises is that the dreamlike circus is actually a battlefield. Duelling magicians Celia and Marco, bound into a deadly game by Prospero (Celia’s father) and Alexander (Marco’s mentor), know they must prove that their magic is the strongest, but not what the outcome of the battle will be or how the winner is decided. As they create tent after tent of magnificent creations, they find themselves working together more than against each other, and soon they fall inextricably in love. Cue drama.

The Night Circus isn’t a book for someone that wants action catapulting itself off every page. Descriptions of the circus are long and lengthy, and at times I felt that Bailey (a teenager experiencing the circus in wide-eyed wonder) and his chapters served nothing more than to give Morgenstern a chance to take her imagination on a rollercoaster ride. But it’s an incredible journey, and I can honestly say this is an occasion to use the word ‘enthralled’ and actually mean it. I want to take her brain, squeeze it gently and sell the juice by the bottle-load. Or actually scrap that – i’ll just guzzle it all myself.

The Night Circus is a dazzling tale of forbidden love in a magical world that will really awaken your imagination.  It feels unique and groundbreaking but the fin-de-siecle timing and monochrome styling make it deliciously classic at the same time. It sparkles like a dusty antique gem. Characterisation might take a bit of a back seat, but who cares when you’ve got front row tickets to the best circus in the world?


Coming soon… The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

7 Sep

Stand by for my review, coming soon…

Monday inspiration: The Redstone Book of the Eye

5 Sep

“When someone says ‘I’ve got my eye on you’ it does not mean that they are in love with you.”

Bonkers profundity from the Redstone Book of the Eye, a collection of weird, surreal, beautiful and puzzling images brought together in one mind-tripping compendium. Definitely worth a flick-through.

Check out the Redstone website for more mentalness.

Shelf candy: Virago releases beautiful reissues of classics

2 Sep

I have to admit I drooled a little when these babies arrived on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago…

This new collection of bookish beauties, featuring novels from Daphne du Maurier, Molly Keane, Elizabeth Jenkins, Elaine Dundy and Elizabeth von Armin, have been reissued by Virago to celebrate literature and art by women in the 20th century. The covers have been created by renowned textile designers Eley Kishimoto, Lucienne Day, Florence Broadhurst, Angie Lewin and Neisha Crosland. Delightful, aren’t they? 

Have you got your eye on any spectacular-looking reissues? If you’re looking for something a little more alternative, feast your eyes on these tattooed modern classics