science fiction and fantasy author

Category: not a review

Not-a-review: The Night Circus

I’ve been feeling a bit jaded with reading of late, having come up against a couple of books that just didn’t draw me in at all.  I read Some Kind of Fairytale, which was amazing, but then kind of flailed about trying to figure out what to read next.

I’ve been trying to keep up with reading along with the Writer and the Critic podcast, and have fallen somewhat behind.  I’m pretty much finding that I love or like most of the books Kirstyn recommends, while Mondy’s recommendations aren’t always for me, but I do appreciate reading every book that he does recommend.  Which is a long way of saying that his taste isn’t always mine, but I feel like Kirstyn’s taste and mine converges somewhat.

Anyway.  I am a few podcasts back, and so I picked up The Night Circus.

Fun fact: reading through the acknowledgements, there’s a referral to thanking Purgatory.  Ho, says I, someone who posts at Absolute Write. and specifically the No News Is Good News thread (known as Purgatory to its denizens).  Now, I used to hang out at AW a lot back when I was querying Shaede, mostly posting in Purgatory.  For me and for that book, it was close but no cigar, of course.  And I realised, very belatedly and after a bit of searching, that I’d actually been active in the thread at the same time as Erin.  My brain = boo, hiss.  Erin = squee!

Anyway, onto the book.

I’d heard a bit of hype about this book, but hadn’t really looked into it much.  I bought a copy on my Kindle and promptly forgot about it, as I am wont to do when I get distracted by too many other books.  And, in a general mood of ennui, I started to read.  And read.

This book is just gorgeous.  Like Kirstyn and Mondy, I wasn’t taken so much with the characters (though I think I like Celia a little more than they did) – but neither did I dislike them, per se.  I loved Poppet and Widget though.  I did have a few times when I got confused about characters, but I think that says way more about my own state of mental fogginess than the book itself.

Honestly, I didn’t read this for the characters, or the story so much.  It was the circus, and all the lush imagery of the circus and the magic being used.  I am not surprised at all that this has been optioned for a movie, but I’m not certain that any movie is going to do justice to it all.  It was just breathtaking, and wonderful and gave me such a sense of awe while I was reading.

Also, Morgenstern, you get a general frowny face for part of Bailey’s storyline.  No spoilers, but when you read, you will know.

I read this on Kindle, but I have now ordered the glorious UK hardcover, which I shall be very happy to have on my shelf.

And because I am a fool, I’ve also ended up with a paperback copy (don’t ask, just know that my brain is not to be trusted).  To reward anyone who’s actually read this entry, I shall be happy to post it to a random commenter (On livejournal, dreamwidth or at the website).  Happy to send anywhere in the world, so comment away!

EDIT: I will be picking a winner on Friday, my time, 9am, so you have until then to comment.

Not-a-review: Some Kind of Fairytale

Here I have to make a small confession: Until now, I’d not read any Graham Joyce.

I grabbed a copy of this book mostly because Gary K. Wolfe talked about it on the Coode Street Podcast (I swear I get enabled so much by podcasts, and have never regretted any such enabling) – to paraphrase, I think he put it into the same kind of circle of awesome as Caitlin R. Kiernan’s Drowning Girl, which remains one of the most amazing books I’ve read over the last few years.

And so I bought it, and popped it on my shelf to languish for a little while.  I’m at the point where I’m going to have to start forcing myself to read everything on my TBR mountain soon.  It’s gotten a wee bit out of hand.

Feeling a bit disillusioned with some of the stuff I’ve been reading (or, more properly, picking up, reading two chapters and putting down again), I picked this up.  And noticed what I’d missed when I received it – the fact that I’d actually received a signed limited edition.  Thank you, Book Depository, you are kind of awesome.

And that’s a lot of rambling to get to actually talking about the book.  Which, when you look at it, has a fairly simple premise – Tara vanished in the woods when she was sixteen, and turns up twenty years later, looking no older than she had on the day she disappeared.  Her return sends ripples through the lives of her family – especially her brother, Peter and her boyfriend (when she vanished), Richie, who was actually a suspect for her murder and has pretty much been frozen in time since then.

Joyce doesn’t play with the mystery of Tara’s disappearance overmuch, and the reader is never really in much doubt about what happened to her, but this really isn’t a bad thing.  It really does feel like Tara’s reappearance is a stone thrown into a pond (or maybe a carpet of bluebells), and he moves through different characters’ points of view and timelines to show just how much that rippling affects.

There is so much gorgeous writing in this, and so many sentences that I literally stopped and reread about a dozen times, just savouring them, before I moved on.

And after I finished reading this book, I promptly went online and ordered a bunch of Joyce’s other work.

If you like literary fantasy, and fairy tales, I can really, really recommend this one.  I think it’s going to be a book that I reread many, many times.

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