This was a book club selection and I was actually looking forward to it. Set in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the book is the tale of a mysterious traveling circus filled with strange, magical experiences. It’s the stage for a decades long battle between two rival magicians. Sounds awesome, right? Good Lord, this book was stupid. Yeah, so it just meanders around aimlessly and this whole contest between the two magicians turns into this stupid love story that really takes up most of the book and, yeah, all the characters are cardboard and uninteresting and the plotting is . . . not good. It’s trying to be enigmatic, but it’s just so vague that you can’t even care what’s happening on the rare occasions that you do understand it. Morgenstern has some imagination, but it’s mostly used in the setting and the circus is unique, I guess, and she comes up with some really weird stuff to put in the tents. But, on the whole, this one really flopped for me. I give this a definite below average. Consider this a strong recommendation against. 1 ½ stars.
tl;dr – somewhat interesting setting, of a mysterious, supernatural circus, is wasted due to poor, aimless plotting, workmanlike prose and a cast of dull, shallow characters. 1 ½ stars.