Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter

Synopsis: Sophie Fevvers—the toast of Europe's capitals, courted by the Prince of Wales, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec—is an aerialiste extraordinaire, star of Colonel Kearney's circus. She is also part woman, part swan. Jack Walser, an American journalist, is on a quest to discover Fevvers's true identity: Is she part swan or all fake? Dazzled by his love for Fevvers, and desperate for the scoop of a lifetime, Walser joins the circus on its tour. The journey takes him—and the reader—on an intoxicating trip through turn-of-the-century London, St. Petersburg, and Siberia—a tour so magical that only Angela Carter could have created it.... (from the back of the book)

Review: I read this for my Halloween book. It understood it to creep and dark - and considering it about the Circus (which creep me out) - I thought it should be sufficient for a Halloween. I was disappointed. Sort of a bent fairy tale, it contained more magic realism, strange characters, and shocker-value narrative than creepy and dark. I didn't enjoy it. I agree the Fevvers and Walser are complex characters, well-written, and intriguing. But the secondary characters seem built only to shock the reader. They are a mish-mash of cliches and oddities, all the fantastic to be believable. And the magic - a bit is fine, but half the time, I had no idea what happened. It seemed often the magic was used to connect bits in the story instead of using plot. I didn't like that. And in the end, the biggest "hook" of the story - whether Fevvers actually has wings or not - is never answered. It fits with the the book - meaning the reader never really knows what is real and what is not  - sort of like a Circus, I guess - but it wasn't my sort of story. I prefer rational thought.

Bookmarks: 6 of 10

Awards: 1984 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, 2012 Best of the James Tait Black, winner

ISBN: 0-14-007703-0
Date Finished: 10-31-2015
Pages: 295

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