Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser

I have PLENTY of books that need reviewing at this point, but I just finished my first Once Upon a Time read and enjoyed it so much that I want to talk about it right away. Enchanted Night is a very different book in both it’s format and it’s content. But I do mean “different” in an good way. A very good way. Would it be silly of me to describe this book itself as enchanting? Because I do think it’s the perfect word for it.

There is no true plot to this short novella. What it encapsulates is the events of a summer night. A night where anything might happen. When magic is in the air.  A writer who holes up in his attic leaves to visit a friend for an adventure, four girls break into homes leaving notes saying “WE ARE YOUR DAUGHTERS”, strange flute music plays throughout the night and enchants children from their homes, dolls awaken in attics, a mannequin breathes and a man falls in love with her, lovers lay on a beach. These are just a few things that happen on this enchanted night.

The book is written in a series of very short chapters. Some chapters as short as just a couple of sentences or four short lines of poetry…a song. Millhauser’s writing is something that is just a pure gift to readers. I prayed for it not to end, just as I prayed for the night not to end when I was reading this book…dreading the rising of the sun, just as the characters in the book did. As the pages start to thin in your hands, there becomes a sense of urgency…that the book is almost over, that time is running out. And you truly don’t want it to end.

Millhauser does such a fantastic job of putting us into the book. Having us actually feel the magic, the enchantment of this special night where the moon goddess has come down and touched everything. Call me crazy, but I so wanted to just go lie in the grass in my backyard after reading this one and soak in the moonlight. It’s a reading experience I won’t soon forget. This was the second Millhauser book that I’ve read and I think I’ve found a very special author in him. The first book I read by him was Martin Dressler. You can read my thoughts on that one here. I loved that book and still think of it to this day, but I loved this one even more. This was a fantastic start to Once Upon a Time!

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15 Responses

  1. I read this last year, and read a short story collection by him pre-blogging. I can’t remember what it was called, but it had the story that was adapted into the movie The Illusionist, and it had this wonderful story called A Game of Clue which is one of the best shorts I’ve ever read. I think I probably didn’t catch half of what was in Enchanted Night, but it was beautifully done!

  2. This book sounds wonderful!!! I hope my library has it!

  3. Sounds wonderful! It’s always dangerous reading your reviews… The cover is wonderful, it reminds me of the artwork in an Aimee Mann album.

  4. Must. Have. This. Book. Oh Chris, what a beautiful review! Wanting to go lie in grass and soak up the moonlight–so *not* crazy! 😀

  5. ‘Call me crazy, but I so wanted to just go lie in the grass in my backyard after reading this one and soak in the moonlight.’ I just love this sentence. If a book makes you feel like that, then I definitely want to read it.

  6. Fantastic review Chris. I really want this book now!

  7. Amanda, I’m DYING to read one of his short story collections!!! The reason I originally added him to my TBR collection way back in the day is because I learned that The Illusionist was based on a short story of his and I loved that movie. Must check out A Game of Clue! This book was just so awesome!!

    Becky, It is wonderful 😀 I hope your library has it too!

    Stormfilled, I absolutely love the cover! My only complaint is that it gives away a lot of the book :p But it’s ok I guess :p It’s awesome though, huh?

    Debi, Ok, I’m glad I don’t sound too crazy, because I totally wanted to do that :p You’d really love this book Debi!! It’s so good!

    Vivienne, Oh, I think it would make you feel the same way 😀 It’s such a wonderful book!

    Darren, Thanks! I hope you get it! It’s a great one!!

  8. I’m all giddy with excitement over your review. This sounds like just the sort of vignette collection that I enjoy so much. I got images of Murakami (after dark, Charles de Lint and others while reading it. I have just added it to my library queue and it should be here in a few days! I can’t wait to read it, thanks for pointing it out and for the great, enticing review.

  9. Carl, I’m so glad you mentioned Murakami because I completely forgot to mention that in my review! Although it’s not a rip-off of After Dark, it has the total same feel of After Dark! You really would love this one. I thought of you while reading it.

  10. Well you’ve got more bad bloggers punishment on the way, as I’ve just ordered this one!

    And, I’d never even considered After Dark for OOaT, looking into it, it might just fit.

  11. Darren, Woohoo!!! Yay for more punishment :p I don’t know if After Dark will work for OUaT or not…I’m trying to remember if there is a fantasy element to it or not, but I can’t :/ It has a very similar feel to this one though. Oooh, I think there is a ghost in After Dark now that I’m thinking about it!

  12. There is a fantasy element of sorts in the tale of her sister. I say go for it for After Dark for Once Upon a Time. It is a great book and any excuse to read it is a good excuse.

    BTW, I’m 20 pages away from finished Enchanted Night. Loving it and am going to hate to see it end.

  13. […] easy to be ensnared by the lure of enticing books. Such was my peril when I recently came across this review by my friend Chris. When he wrote “Millhauser’s writing is something that is just a pure […]

  14. […] reading two reviews of this book, one by Chris at the Stuff As Dreams Are Made On blog, the other by regular commenter here, Carl V. on his blog Stainless Steel Droppings, I […]

  15. […] was made aware of Steven Millhauser when Chris reviewed this novella on his website in early 2010. I wasted no time in ordering a copy from my local library. In early […]

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