30DBC Day 1 – Best Book You Read Last Year (in 2013)

Yay! First post for the 30 Day Book Challenge.

This is a really tough choice – considering that I read 30-odd books last year.

But, I’ve made a choice. And it’s gonna be *drumroll* Erin Morgensten’s The Night Circus. I don’t usually read fantasy books. I didn’t hear all the hype nor publicity beforehand. My friend recommended it to me and, as always, I felt compelled to read it.

night-circus-cover1

(Image Source: The Story Siren)

Basically, there’s this two magician, Prospero the Enchanter and the enigmatic Mr. A.H, who challenged each other that their apprentices will be better than the other’s. The competition is between Celia and Mario. Their arena is a circus called Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) which only opens at night. Through their works, Celia and Mario fall in love. But, unknown to them, only one can be left standing – the other will die.

There’s a love story and a competition in a circus – but it is neither about romance, nor action nor it is a book about a circus. In general, this book reminds me of Harry Potter, Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Prestige combined. My favourite characters are the Murray twins Widget & Poppet – the dual version of Luna Lovegood (haha). And, until now, I’m dying to see how the especially designed enchanted clock would look in real life.

Dreams don’t need to explain themselves, right? They just have to be interesting and engaging. That’s how it was with The Night Circus. The imagery weaves a fantasy where you get carried along with the text and submit yourself to a dream. I don’t usually like descriptive books (I get lost in all the adjectives) but this book manage to hook me somehow. The mood, atmosphere and imagery in this book is astounding! There’s an emphasis on the colour scheme and texture which created an exquisite and elegant fantasy I didn’t want to get out of. Plus, like an omniscient observer, we were jumping between different timelines with varying perspective from different characters – it was pretty cool!

The plot was brilliantly unfolded too. It’s like a memory puzzle game. The plot pieces start out so loosely that you can see little to no connection to them besides the two obvious ones between Marco and Celia. So you just dismiss out all the “unimportant” details. Somewhere in the middle, you’re still in the dark about most things. You do notice that the book is getting better… but you don’t fully realise this until there’s only like a few chapters left. And my gosh! The little pieces you started out with is now a huge entangled complicated sculpture. But there’s no stopping now… there’s not time to go back and re-analyse everything. The story simply carries you forward in a wave of sheer amazement you have to devour. Then, you get to the end of the book, and… your brain goes BOOM! And, you’ll be like, “Fudge! I gotta re-read everything!” Haha! Yup, that’s on my to-do list.

Some people may say that The Night Circus needs a little bit more character/plot development. Sure! The competition can be fiercer with more sense of urgency. Or, there could have been a better build up for the romance. In all honesty, the story will not hold under tight scrutiny. There are loads of things left unexplained. But, that worked for me! That charmed me! After all, that’s what an “illusionist” does – a magician never reveals his tricks. At the end of the day, The Night Circus is fresh, unique and unprecedented – It was incredibly worth it!

If you’d like to have an inside glance of the book, there’s a preview at Erin Morgenstern’s site. Otherwise, here’s my favourite excerpt:

But that is before it is wound. Before it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, then it becomes something else. The changes are slow. First, the color changes in the face, shifts from white to grey, and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side. Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle. As though the clock is falling apart, slowly and gracefully. All of this takes hours. 

The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played. At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler. Dressed in harlequin style with a grey mask, he juggles shiny silver balls that correspond to each hour. As the clock chimes, another ball joins the rest until at midnight he juggles twelve balls in a complex pattern. After midnight the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself. The face lightens and the clouds return. The number of juggled balls decreases until the juggler himself vanishes. 

By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream. 

Okay. That’s all for now. Please remember to check Cumuloquoise‘s site for her 30DBC pick of the day! Can’t believe I managed not to check hers the whole time I’m typing mine out. But, I’m gonna go over now. Tata! ❤

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