September 28, 2011

When Voice Trumps All - The Night Circus

Though it didn't sweep me away completely, THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a fabulous example of how an author's way with words can keep you intrigued even when you feel the pacing lags.

Morgenstern's writing is especially strong when it comes to imagery. At times, it's almost like reading a director's notes. Just one example: 

"After the performance has concluded, the man in the grey suit navigates the crush of patrons in the lobby with ease. He slips through a curtained door leading to the backstage dressing rooms unnoticed. Stagehands and dressers never so much as glance at him. He raps on the door at the end of the hall with the silver tip of his cane."

Morgenstern also does a fabulous job of earning your empathy for characters, like Celia, the magician's daughter: 

"Her father brings her everywhere while she is small, parading her like a well-loved small dog in expensive gowns, for his colleagues and acquaintances to fawn over in pubs after performances. When he decides she is too tall to be an adorable accessory, he begins abandoning her in dressing rooms or hotels."

Really, you can turn to just about any page in this book and the voice comes through so strong it nearly takes your breath away. A richly imagined circus, fleshed-out characters, scenes that touch all your senses, everything is imbued with Morgenstern's unique perspective.

Look no further if you want to know what agents mean when they're looking for "voice".

Have you read it yet?


  1. I haven't read it yet but I'm very eager to do so. Everyone's had nothing but good things to say about the story and the writing. I might save it as a Christmas treat to myself.

  2. Stephanie: I think you'll like it. I felt the pacing lagged at times, but the writing is superb!


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