The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern | 5/5

“A breathtaking feat of imagination, a flight of fancy that pulls you in and wraps you up in its spell.” The Times

“Dazzling,” Independent on Sunday

“Enchanting,” Guardian

Overview:

As someone with a degree in creative writing, it is extremely hard for me to become immersed in and truly enjoy a book. Too often I’m caught up by poorly constructed sentences, plot holes, clichés, stereotypes, problematic behaviour, representation, and tropes, predictability; etc. (It’s honestly ruined the reading experience. 10/10 would not recommend.) The Night Circus, however, enraptured me from the first page.

With its unique structure of a second person narration surrounding you with the crackle of flames, the smell of popcorn, the taste of caramel apples, interwoven between two alternating storylines, it is so easy to get lost in the world that Morgenstern created.

The fantastical elements of the circus and the characters, of this world, were so organic, that, rather than fantasy, it almost read like magic realism. While I preferred the main story line of Celia and Marco, each of the characters were beautifully etched to life, along with every scene, every description, and so I didn’t get bored when the timeline shifted.

The sheer imagination and depth that went into this narrative is mind boggling. This is the kind of novel that both reminds me of why I want to be a writer, and why I probably never will be. I honestly can’t believe that it hasn’t received more critical acclaim.

Though I have seen the novel criticised for its slow pace, I would argue that the dreamlike trance it creates is part of it’s charm. The narrative spans decades, and it feels as if we are there for each one, as much a part of the circus as the characters we follow.

My only possible critique is that the book isn’t long enough and the ending dissatisfying, because I was not ready to let go when it finished. This would now have to be one of my favourite books of all time. I can’t wait for Morgenstern to write something else, and can only pray that it will be just as wonderful.

(Continue reading for a more in depth review, but beware spoilers.)

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Windwitch by Susan Dennard | 3.5/5

“A cake stuffed full of your favourite treats.” Robin Hobb

“Truthwitch is an instant new classic. It reminded me of why I started reading fantasy in the first place.” Sarah J. Maas

“Dynamic storytelling and a fully imagined magical world.” Publishers Weekly

 

Disclaimer: This review is in no way written in malice or intending to offend, it is purely my opinion, and if it differs from yours that does not mean that your own opinion or enjoyment is invalid.

Overview:

True to my word, I did pick up the second novel in the Witchlands series, and I was neither disappointed or surprised, just, initially, apathetic. It took me three attempts to read this book, as each time I picked it up I ended in a state of annoyance, frustration and confusion. The series seems to have the unique quality of the style being too fast paced, and yet, nothing seems to happen. Despite this, however, I did power through one Saturday afternoon, and once I hit half way I was finally absorbed by the narrative.

I still found the world building lacking, which of course is the main reason I struggled with my immersion into the story. As well of this, many of the questions I had by the end of Truthwitch were still not answered by the end of Windwitch. The concept of cleaving is still irritatingly vague, the Carawen monks and the cahr awen are still not fully explained, and the Nomatsi people are still left underdeveloped.

In regards to the characters, I experienced a complete one-eighty. In Truthwitch, I enjoyed Safi and Merik. In Windwitch, I could not stand them, and whenever in their perspective I ached to get through the segment and return to Iseult and Aeduan, the two characters that I previously found dull. The introduction of Vivia’s perspective (Merik’s sister), I very much enjoyed. She had an excellent character arc, which I found some of the other characters, mainly Safi, lacked. Additionally, like in Truthwitch, I found that Windwitch mentioned a lot of characters, ones not even part of the main narrative, that I was constantly confused as to what, and who, the main characters were talking about. The multiple point of view structure also left me wondering whose story this really is.

Again, the writing style and structure of the novel I had no problem with, except for the fact that it somehow lacks clarity. However, I did find the structure of the plot repetitive (for further explanation, head to the spoiler section of the review), and not very driven. This series is very much motivated by characterisation and not action or plot.

Overall, just like Truthwitch, I found Windwitch a slow narrative that held no interest until half way, when the plot and action started to kick into gear. Though the novel started out weak, for me it ended strong, mostly through my interest in the further development of Iseult and Aeduan, both as individuals, and as friends (and perhaps more?). So, I will be reading the next installment, but again I am left hoping that the next book holds the answers, the depth, that the current novels are missing.

(Continue reading for a more in depth review, but beware spoilers.)

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