The-Night-Circus-Book-Review

Hi all! I loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Review below, but basically, this book was enchanting, mysterious, elegant, and a total page turner. I’m planning a “Midnight Dinner” with some friends this month to celebrate the Circus of Dreams. Bookish parties are the best, aren’t they?

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“Because we don’t have your typical gaps around here. Not gaps made of rocks or mountains. We have gaps in the world. In the space of things. So many places to lose yourself, if you believe that they’re there. You can slip into the gap and never find your way out. Or maybe you don’t want to find your way out.”

I can’t even begin to sum up this weirdly stunning, magical book.

I absolutely loved everything about it. But then again, I seem to like most YA contemporaries these days with a little magical realism sprinkled in for good measure. Well, that’s not entirely true; it’s not easy to get it right. But when an author does get it right? Good gracious, I have GOOSEBUMPS.

This book takes place in Bone Gap, Illinois—a small town with just a drop of magic and a whole lot of chatter from eclectic neighbors. Laura Ruby has one of the most original voices I’ve come across, especially in this genre. In Bone Gap, we follow the stories of Finn “Moonface” O’Sullivan; his brother, Sean; Roza, a beautiful girl with beautiful scars; and Petey, the daughter of a beekeeper whose sting is worse than any bee. There are many other voices of Bone Gap that unravel in this work of fiction, and my whole reading experience was a dreamlike state of falling in love with each one. It was difficult to distinguish reality from dream—just as I like it.

I loved Finn’s character, but Roza and Petey were two of the most well-drawn, complex girls I’ve seen in a while. They are so very different, yet both of them have been burned by what the world identifies as beautiful.

She was too delicate for that strong, scratchy voice, as if her birdlike outside was just a pretty little tale she liked to tell, and the true story was something she kept deep down inside.

Most of the narrative is from Finn’s viewpoint, but we also learn about other characters’ pasts, including Roza, a beautiful girl who would rather not be seen. When she goes missing in Bone Gap, no one believes Finn’s story that she was abducted. He was the only witness, but Finn is called Moonface for a reason. He’s known as Sidetrack. Spaceman. No one believes him because everyone thinks he’s “just a little spacey.” While it’s true that Finn seems to zone out, there are a few things he can’t get out of his head. Roza’s disappearance haunts him. Without giving anything away, I will say this: There’s a reason Finn can’t describe Roza’s captor, and it makes for an intriguing, unreliable narrative.

In Bone Gap, Finn learns about bees and how to find the queen in a cluster swarming all around. He learns that beekeepers spot the queen by the way she moves more than anything else.

“It’s hard to describe. It’s as if she walks in a more determined way … The best way to see her is to let your eyes lose their focus, let things get a bit fuzzy on you. See the bees as a whole rather than individuals. When you do that, you understand the entire pattern. The queen’s movements will stick out because they’re so different from everyone else’s.”

This is exactly the effect Bone Gap had on me. Laura Ruby’s masterful storytelling almost summoned me to see the world a little out of focus, to see the uncertainty, the magic, the love and loss—all running together like honey on a spoon. This is a book about perspective. It’s about fairytales, how we see ourselves and how we see other people, how to look beyond the way others see us and overcome the labels and expectations that grieve us. It goes without saying that this is now one of my all-time favorite books.

To show you just how captivated I was, I found myself humming a little tune and ended up playing a little something on the Uke—because, well, I tend to gravitate toward songs about books and I haven’t found one about this book yet. It’s nothing to write home about and I’m not sure reading it without the tune is very helpful, but hopefully, if you’ve read the book, you’ll appreciate some of the words.

“Moonface”



Night mare in a honey sky

Girls who sting and boys who cry

Boys who see and girls who slip into the gaps

We’re flying with the ghosts

You’re talking to the corn

And I’m waiting for you just beyond the dark

And this is where we find all that makes us blind

And everything we left behind

And this is where we met

And all the things we wish we’d said

Everything that fell into the gaps

We count them, people disappeared

Buzzing by, everything we feared

Falling asleep with your head in my lap

Oh we’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps

Just beyond these bones

Just beyond these honeycombs

We’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps

And when you see my face

I know we’re in that secret place

We’re falling, falling, falling in the gaps. 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

“To many I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did. I was just a girl.”

I tend to believe that most people cannot easily come to grips with identity or the strange and beautiful sorrows of life until they unravel the stories of their family histories and peel away the layers of where they come from.

I also tend to believe that, like author Leslye Walton’s strange kinship with the daffodil, some people can achieve beauty only after a long, cold sulk in the rain.

As I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, narrated by the peculiar and enchanting Ava Lavender herself, I felt as though I were hiding out with her in a secret place, marveling with her at the mysteries wedged between generations of unspoken and relentless suffering and love.

It was as if we had stumbled upon a box of journals or pictures we weren’t meant to find—as if we had blurred the lines that separate mother and daughter, reality and dream, or stranger and ghost. It was, in truth, like standing in a rainstorm having a long sulk, as Walton puts it, “pondering the logic, or rather, lack thereof, in love—the ways we coax ourselves to love, to continue loving, to leave love behind.”

This story, sprinkled with magic realism, chronicles the many ways love and pain have shaped the different generations of a hollow family. Told through the familiar but subtle hum of a traditional, pure fairy tale, Ava Lavender intimately invites readers into her story, which begins with the generations of the Roux family—all of whom have learned that love makes us such fools.

The generational saga explores themes of love and love lost, and every scene is so vividly painted. Walton knows how to weave a story using the five senses; she also knows how to create a character with wings in a painfully realistic way. Ava is a peculiar girl, and not simply because she was born with wings.

Her family seems to pass along a gene of strange, beautiful sorrows—beginning with her great-grandmother, Maman; grandmother, Emilienne; and mother, Viviane. These characters, along with the Roux siblings and Ava’s twin brother, are portrayed so well, I actually had to reread small details because they were so damn lovely.

Sixteen-year-old Ava dives into her family’s past and peers into the cavernous hearts of her mother, grandmother, and others long gone—constructing what is so poignantly described on the inside cover as “a layered and haunting mythology of what it means to be born with a heart that is tragically, exquisitely human.” I wholeheartedly agree, and could not describe it any better.

Quite honestly, it was the perfect book for me. It was magical and dreamy but also dark and violent. There’s so much more I could say, but I would urge anyone interested in this book to stumble into reading without knowing much about it, as I did, because the tiny details that deepen characterization are what will make you fall in love with this book.

I could share countless lyrical quotes that—I promise you—will be etched into my heart for a long time, but I don’t want to steal that from you. All I can say is that I’ve found a new favorite. Completely unexpected. Completely mesmerizing. I cannot wait for Leslye Walton to write more books.