Category Archives: Book Review

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

The Night Circus

 

I actually started “reading” this book and then it got packed because I was moving.  Then I was loaned a copy of the audio version of the book which is read by Jim Dale.

The Night Circus is another one of those books that gets very mixed reviews from people.  Its to be expected, as it is not a little step, but a huge step outside of the norm.  Its not full of action.  There are no true antagonists or protagonists.

All there is is the game.  And the game is begun in the beginning with the choosing of the players.  Two children.  One boy and one girl.  Trained for years by a master and knowing that only one can win.  Then given the arena.  The Night Circus.

Everything is either black or white in the circus.  The players, the tents, the exhibitions.  It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn.

The Night Circus is a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream.  Its a rich tapestry set in monochrome.  Its like falling asleep in a thousand petaled flower with a new layer of dream opening with each petal.  The prose is exquisite, the characters enigmatic.

The advantage I found when I switched to the audio is the ability to be carried off by the words of the story by an amazing reader.  Jim Dale did an amazing job of bringing Erin’s story to life.  My biggest problem was in not getting to carried away with the story that it distracted me from driving.  Truth is, there were a few times I stopped it because I wanted to finish listening to a section where I didn’t have the distraction.

If you are old enough to remember the circus coming to town, the carnivale, and the wonder it instilled as you slipped through all the tents and discovered the wonders within, you will enjoy this book.  Erin is a master storyteller and I am amazed at how young she is.  I can only imagine what her mature voice will be like.

 

Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

Bellman and Black
I first encountered Diane Setterfield with her first book, The Thirteenth Tale.  It was amazing and wonderful and I loved it so much that I bought my own copy.  The one I read was from my friends at the library.  Well, my friends at the library have supplied me with yet another fix from this wonderful writer.

I have read some of the reviews posted online for this book.  I suppose all I can say is everyone’s taste is different.  I can see how many would not find this book to their liking.  And there are also those that are upset that it is so different from The Thirteenth Tale.  But, I believe the fact of how different it is shows how good of a writer Diane Setterfield is.

The story is beautiful, slow and haunting.  Its rather “slow” by today’s standard.  Far more belonging with the Gothic tales of the Victorian Era.  Much more a study of the characters and how a person’s interpretation of one incident can relay the chart of their lives.

The story begins with the murder of a rook by a flawless shot of a child.  And the rooks haunt the story throughout.  The boy grows to manhood and masters all he touches, till one day it all comes crashing back down.  And unnamed bargain is made with the man in Black, a bargain that is assumed but never defined.  And it is upon this that the new world is built and the web of mystery woven.

Its a fascinating look into the mind of obsession, of human frailty and how foolish we humans often are.  I think my favorite line is we are, “an entertainment of humans”.

 

The House Girl – Tara Conklin

The House GirlThe House Girl is a novel by Tara Conklin that covers the stories of two women, Josephine Bell, a nurse slave and artist and Lina Sparrow, a modern attorney assigned to find direct slave descendants for a suit that could make her career.

I very much enjoyed this novel.  However, I do have to say that I had far more preference to the chapters about Josephine.  It was in the telling of Josephine’s story that I feel Tara really found her voice as a writer.  The passages were lyrical, beautifully descriptive and drew you deeply into the lives and atmosphere of the slave owning deep South.  There are few writers who can immerse you so deeply into an alien landscape and show you the world through the lens of the characters.  Through Josephine’s story, she does just that.  The inner struggles with her owner, who taught her to read and draw, creating an almost daughterly loyalty with her desire for freedom and knowledge that the loyalty is but an illusion.

This did not, in my opinion, carry over so much in Lina’s portion of the story.  This may be due to the Tara allowing too much of the attorney to infuse into it.  But, she seemed to struggle more in the writing of these sections.  The characters didn’t seem to have near the depth and complexity of those of Josephine’s world.  Even so, it was still a well told story and for the most part beautifully crafted.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a truly immersing read.

 

Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldLeviathan (Leviathan, #1)
by Scott WesterfeldKeith Thompson

Leviathan was an interesting read. I think I am maybe just not used to the Steampunk type of book yet. I was quite fascinated with the living airship though. It was a pretty easy read and the characters were engaging. I particularly liked Daryn, the female hiding in the guise of a boy lead in the book.

 

A Latent Dark

A Latent Dark by Martin KeeA Latent Dark
by Martin Kee

I got this book as a member giveaway. I have to say I was quite impressed with it. It took a little bit to get fully engulfed in the book, but when I did, all the other books I was reading at the time got temporarily pushed to the side. Its almost like the author mashed as many genres as he could together, steampunk, gothic horror, fantasy, burning times, science fiction. But, he pulled it off quite well. I will be most interested to look at any other books he puts to print.