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Book Report: Got time for a very scary story?

The girl looks up at him again. Dark eyes narrow beneath her curls.

The teacup on the desk begins to shake. Ripples disrupt the calm surface as cracks tremble across the glaze, and then it collapses in shards of flowered porcelain. Cold tea pools in the saucer and drips onto the floor, leaving sticky trails along the polished wood.

The magician's smile vanishes. He glances back at the desk with a frown and the spilled tea begins seeping up from the floor. The cracked and broken pieces stand and re-form themselves around the liquid until the cup sits complete once more, soft swirls of steam around the liquid until the cup sits complete once more, soft swirls of steam rising into the air.

The girl stares at the teacup, her eyes wide.

Hector Bowen takes his daughter's face in his gloved hand, scrutinizing her expressing for a moment before releasing her, his fingers leaving long red marks across her cheeks.

"You might be interesting," he says.

The girl does not reply.

Thus begins "The Night Circus," by Erin Morgenstern (Doubleday, $26.95), which is being touted as the next fantastical book that might enjoy the success of the "Harry Potter" series.

As a reviewer who never read that series and has taken lots of guff from fans, when I read the releases of "The Night Circus," whose rights have already been picked up by Hollywood, I resolved to read it.

And, by golly, I liked it.

Hector's stage name is Prospero the Enchanter; the little girl is Celia, his estranged daughter.

Prospero is an illusionist and so is little Celia.

Prospero makes a deal with a fellow illusionist that will pit against Celia against little Marco under the big top of "The Circus of Dreams."

And the winner will take all.

The circus magically appears in city after city during the turn of the last century and Celia and Marco do their thing, unaware their masters have cut the deal and that one of the kids will have to lose.

Complicating matters is the fact that Celia and Marco are head over heels in love with each other.

So if you like circuses, and who doesn't? And if you like love stories and maniacal magic and who doesn't? "The Night Circus" might just come nipping at the heels of "Harry Potter."

As someone who grew up reading the King James Version of the Bible, I have not altogether jokingly called it "the REAL Bible."

I love it for the majesty of its prose; the archaic 17th century mannerism. And I don't always like what I read in more recent translations.

I read one passage from a modern attempt that changed the famous line from the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..." to "The Lord is my shepherd; I don't need anything."

I rest my case.

Apparently, the eminent Yale scholar Harold Bloom feels the same way and says so in his new book "The Shadow of a Great Rock," subtitled "A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible." It's a total delight as Bloom examines its passages and the largely undistinguished group of translators who miraculously cobbled it together.

Bloom concludes that it stands as "the sublime summit of literature in English."

On the regional front, the John K. and Elsie Lampert Fesler Fund provides money to republish significant out-of-print books that originate in Minnesota. Such a book is the charming "Playful Slider," ($11.95), a children's introduction to the North American river otter, first published in 1993 by Little, Brown; written by Barbara Juster Esbensen (1925-1996) with lovely illustrations by Mary Barrett Brown (1938-2000).

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.