The Night Circus: A Review

I wholeheartedly encourage anyone that enjoys reading fantasy novels to read Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. From her website, the synopsis for the book is:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I will not add any spoilers to the story. I hate it when people do that to me, and I will not do it intentionally to someone else. However, the book is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions that allow the reader to picture not just the events of the story, but all of it in an almost dusky, hazy, early gaslight era quality. I was never a big one for traditional circuses as a kid, although as an adult I have come to love the many shows of Cirque du Soleil. That being said, this is a circus that I could easily have lost myself in and it is one that I would never have wanted to leave. Especially alluring is the fact that circus arrives and leaves completely unannounced, and only opens at night. At which time, the torches light, the gates open, and the circus comes alive. Who wouldn’t want to see a tent that inside is a garden made of un-melting ice or play in a tent that inside allowed you to jump and climb through banks of clouds?

One word of warning, however, and that is about the style of narration. From one chapter to another, it does have a tendency to skip back and forth between different settings and time periods. I thought that it worked beautifully together and it allowed the reader to see the way the circus progressed and grew over time. However, I know that narration of this sort can also sometimes be difficult to follow for some readers; personally, I did not find it difficult at all. Additionally, given that the storylines eventually come together (i.e., it is not a random or disjointed choice to have differing time periods and locations), with patience it should all make sense in the end.

If you have read it or if you read it eventually, what did you think of the book?

For the sake of those who have not read it though, plus keep your comments spoiler free or warn people first.

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