Berry Book Reviews: - JuniperCivic.com
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Originally published in the March 2012 Juniper Berry Magazine

Berry Book Reviews:

The Night Circus

by Erin Morgenstern

The circus arrives without warning. No one knows where it will be, no one knows when. One day you get up and there is nothing there, but by nightfall, you see it, the tents, the performers, everything. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RÍves, and it is only open at night.

This book is simply amazing from the first word. But it is not a book about a circus. Not really. It is a book about a competition between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood simply for the purpose of performing in this circus. They are not aware of it, but this competition is to the death. The circus is simply the medium by which they will be performing their dance of death. Slowly, inexplicably, they fall in love with each other, making this competition even more perilous.

Once the game has begun, nothing can stop it until either Celia or Marco die. The fate of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hangs in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

This book is full of magic and mystery and wonders such as no one has ever seen before. I strongly recommend it. The book received many accolades before it was even published and there have been rumors of its being made into a movie. I would love to see it on the big screen.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, a strange collection of very curious photographs and from that we have the story of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.

Jacob Portman is very close to his grandfather Abraham. He remembers his happy childhood spent listening to his grandfather's stories. They were fantastical stories about flying girls and invisible boys. But as Jacob gets older, he begins to doubt the truth of his grandfather's stories. He feels his grandfather made them all up.

Until the day his grandfather is killed there is something not of this world. Something in the woods that mangles his beloved grandfather and sends Jacob off on a journey to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he finds the house his grandfather grew up in as an orphan. In the house, he finds dozens and dozens of photographs like the ones his grandfather used to show him. Some he recognizes, some are new to him.

Through a misstep, he discovers that the children in those photos are still alive. He befriends them and learns more and more about his grandfather and his destiny.

This is another mysterious and wonderful novel. The book is peppered through with the very photographs described in the text, making it a wonderful read with visual aids along the way.

I recommend this book as well. It is geared towards young adults, but adults will appreciate it as well.

Both of these books are the first efforts of each author, and I will certainly be looking for more books from them in the future.