I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Within moments of beginning this recording my toes began curling with pleasure and I felt cozy comforters being tucked in around me. This is an extraordinary story with extraordinary narration. Some might describe this story as dark, but a story which is uniformly uplifting can not be dark. Some describe the story as a romance, but a romance is seldom as nuanced. Is it a fantasy? Is it an allegory? Is it a retelling? It does not really matter, for this is a very good story. There is little action and little romance but a bouquet of delightful imagery. I found the story evoking archetypal memories that were familiar and comforting. If you prefer a fast moving story with lots of action, this is not the book for you. I loved the images, the slow even pace, and especially the circus. I suspect this book has forever changed the way I will feel whenever I think of a circus.
I really wanted to like this book, but it was excruciatingly slow! I listened to it on Audible and the book was broken into two 7-hour parts. When I finally got to the second part, the action got started, but by then I was just ready for it to be over.
I really had a problem with Jim Dale's narration, too. I loved him reading the Harry Potter series, but for some reason he read this one in a sing-songy voice where every sentence, whether declarative, exclamatory, or interrogative, sounded like a question. At one point while listening in the car I actually yelled at my radio, "Shut up!!" and hit the off button.
Add to that the book was written in the present tense which also left me on edge, and this was not an enjoyable experience. Ok, I'm done with the whining and I'm on to the next book as quickly as I can!
This was disappointing, I guess just not my style. I accidentally skipped ahead 3 hours and didn't even notice for another hour. It just wasn't a clear story or really all that compelling.
The advance hype drowned out the experience. It was weak story with little character developoment. It turned out to be just an average book read by a brilliant narrator.
Beautiful in its delicate intimacy. The prose draws one in with a structure that evades the jarring bullishness of "sudden action" fiction. Instead the author lets the story build slowly; "action" is treated with the same tempo as any other scene. As one listens, it is easy feel a little lost in the maze of time lines, characters, places and and emotions, but I think that is what the author had in mind. A book that tells a dream like story in a way that makes you the reader, or listener in this case, feel like you are witnessing the events in a dream. Each description is so detailed yet is only a snapshot of a given view, as if you focused for only a moment on one object in time and space and then moved on into the next. This book is uncommon in its power to antagonize the imagination to "see" the images in the same way we see images in a dream. The story line itself was a touch to well known for me, as a codification of Shakespearean tragedy, Greek, and Modernistic redemptive tragedy and I could see the tales that the author drew from to form the basis of this work. The story does travel at one speed never going faster or slower from beginning to end, yet that was what was intended to maintain that dream-like feeling. This is an excellent snowy night book, or a nice glass of mulled cider on the porch in Autumn kinda day.
A word about Jim Dale. I wonder if I was not the only one who had a few minutes disorientation when I heard Hermione Granger's "voice" come from Celia Bowen's mouth. Or Albus's voice from Alexander. The voices were well chosen and Jim went to the extremes of his talent to maintain the beauty and power of the dream. I don't think anyone could have done this story better....well maybe lLoyd James or Gerard Doyle could have given it a good run. You will have to forgive me because Jim narrated the Potter series and for over 200 hours I heard Celia's voice used for Hermione, it takes a little bit to transition :) Well done Jim!
This book has two serious issues:
1. All characters and their relationships are very flat. The author fails to "Show, don't tell", so we just have to take her word for it that people are very in love.
2. The plot is incomprehensible. Magic is a key element in this book, but the parts of the plot that depend on it are almost entirely unexplained. Most of the book is supposed to be about a magic competition and magic circus, but both characters and the reader are left in the dark as to how any of this works.
... in a very long time. I've recommended it to everyone I know and haven't gotten a single response other than that they loved it - and it doesn't matter whether they like war stories and Westerns (my husband) or Lord of the Rings (my son) or Tuesdays with Morrie (my daughter) or PD James novels (my mom). Now, how can you resist a book that has that kind of following?
I got this because of the reviews and the fact that Jim Dale is amazing- Jim Dale is still amazing but he can only do so much with a story that is so muddled as to be beyond understanding.
Jim was the saving grace of this book though I could not recommend it
When this book came out the reviews were good, but it was because Jim Dale narrated it that made me buy it. I bought it and let it "sit" until now. I'm not a huge fan of period books, that's my only excuse for why I let it sit for so long (Diana Gabaldon being the exception). I'm kicking myself for not listening to it until now. It is awesome! It's very well written. Morgenstern does such an amazing job of describing everything in such a way that it is not tedious and also makes you feel like you're there. At times I swear I could smell popcorn and caramel. I didn't catch on that it was going back and forth in time right away, but I caught on fairly quickly. The narration only makes the book that much more amazing, as I think Jim Dale would be magic reading the yellow pages. An excellent book.
I adore Jim Dale, but I would pass on another book by Erin Morgenstern.
I had little sense of why any of the characters took their actions beyond the fact that the plot required it. The romantic connections seemed random and disconnected from any sort of prior understanding of the characters. There was a distinct lack of narrative tension throughout the books; virtually everything described was
Jim Dale does his ordinary unbelievable job at voicing different characters and turning a piece of prose into a true performance.
I had heard the author interviewed about how Harry Potter had brought a renaissance of fantasy that adults could find interesting and I am a true Harry Potter fanatic, but I probably would've liked this book a lot more when I was 12 or 13.