Sep 17

The Best Fantasy Book I’ve Read

In Brief — A review of “The Night Circus” that reflects the author’s tastes. Will it reflect yours? [Written in May 2017.]


Dreams of a Circus of Fantasy —

“The Night Circus.” My story about a story that stumbled out of the starting gate but crossed the finish line in first place.

It is said that a reader lives a thousand lives but a non-reader lives only one. If true, then I have lived a thousand lives. It seems I’ve been reading all my life. I was an asthmatic kid in his bedroom who read dictionaries while the neighbor kids played outdoors. The asthma disappeared in the high, dry climate of Santa Fe. In my early teens I was lucky in having a friend who introduced me to science fiction and fantasy. Since then, my reading has grown to include philosophy, history, theology, law, politics and other genres including fiction and, of course, fantasy.

“The Night Circus” was a gift from a former teacher friend who has generously fed my addiction with books she found particularly appealing. Unfortunately, unlike previous gifts from my special friend, this gift failed to materialize. I hovered over my Kindle expecting it to appear as others have done. It didn’t. Three days later after repeated complaints to Amazon, “The Night Circus” appeared as mysteriously as the circus does in this book.

As I said at the outset, this is the best fantasy I’ve ever read. I couldn’t put it down and could hardly wait to see where the author, Erin Morgenstern, would take me next. Not all readers will be as entranced as I, but this is my story.

Set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this tale includes wizards, magic, fated lovers and just plain people who are aficionados drawn into the spell of an unusual circus, a circus we all wish existed in our lives.

The fated Marco and Celia are surrounded by Widget, Poppet, Bailey and a host of fascinating characters who populate “The Night Circus.” They are drawn into the orbit of the circus that appears and disappears unpredictably and is open only during the night hours. As a reader, I was drawn in along with them.

What you might expect in any circus can be found here, but it’s all better. The popcorn is popped to perfection, the cider or hot drinks are delicious, the chocolate and caramel taste wonderful. The performances are awe-inspiring. Is it real magic or just beautifully done? Each tent is unique…and there are many tents.

With the circus as a backdrop, Marco and Celia are bound to a competition that will determine who is best. The winner lives; the loser must die. It’s always been like this.

Whether you read it as a paper book or on an e-reader makes little difference other than esthetic. If you are not a reader or not interested in fantasy, I will only say that you are missing something in life. And life is to be lived with all its flavors. “The Night Circus” added flavor to my life. Maybe it can add flavor to yours.

The Weekly Sampler—

As a reminder, go to the Archives on the right side of the page and click on the month and year of that week’s featured Sampler. If you wish, go to the January 15, 2017, blog (“A Simple Reading Assignment”) for more thorough instructions.

If you want to read the entire piece, simply click on the box titled “Continue Reading.” When you want to read the next piece, simply swipe your cursor across the one you have been reading and you will find the next one. Do this every time you want to read the next piece.

Don’t miss the Comments and my replies. Even though the Sampler pieces are from the past, feel free to comment…or not.

Go to the Archives on the right side. Click on July 2016.


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    • Elodie Pritchartt on September 17, 2017 at 16:12

    Reading is the most wonderful way I know to escape a dreary life. My biggest fear is to lose my sight. Audio books just aren’t the same thing as the voice in my mind. I’m glad you found some fantasy and escape, my dear, and hope you are doing well.

      • Don Bay on September 17, 2017 at 18:46

      Reading is the best of all possible worlds. One can learn, one can feel how others feel, one can grow in experience and knowledge…or one can fantasize. This book did all of the foregoing for me. As I said, you are missing an important part of life if you don’t read.

      Elodie, you understand that the voice, the pictures in your head are best of all. I share your fear of losing my sight, but another’s voice reading those words is better than nothing. Keep reading. Along with the books that are now part of me, you will be my friend as long as I draw breath

  1. I echo Elodie about losing my sight. I believe I could find my way around my house and my world but losing books would be devastating. Now, with my Kobo (Canadian Kindle) I can make the screen fit my needs, so it doesn’t matter if I can’t read paper books.

    I’ll look into the Night Circus.

      • Don Bay on September 17, 2017 at 19:04

      As one who knows all too well the threat of approaching blindness, you can appreciate the joy of reading, but another’s voice can still carry you into the realm of pleasure found only in books. Whether it’s Kobo/Kindle or a paper book, it’s another world waiting to unfold.

      You won’t be disappointed by the fantasy world of The Night Circus.

    • Carl Boe on September 18, 2017 at 03:37

    Thanks for the recommendation. I have added this book t the list of ebooks to read from my library. I am not usually a fantasy genre reader, but will give it a try.

      • Don Bay on September 18, 2017 at 07:04

      You sound like my wife when you avoid fantasy. You are missing some really good reading experiences. Though I’m not a fantasy addict, some of them not only take you away but they make you think about possibilities. Isaac Asimov’s robot series is just one example. My daughter is a fantasy writer and some of her books are jewels of fantasy.

      If you ever want a recommendation, as a reading junkie I’m a go-to source. I’m currently reading Harari’s Sapiens and Homo Deus. Talk about making you think. His look into the not-too-distant future will stir those synapses. Some readers and reviewers are shaken.

      Based on the little I know of you, you are a thinking man, so your reading list must be a gold mine for others. Toss in a few good fantasies to make that gold mine even richer.

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