I'm a lover of everything written. I am happiest when I have a book, a paintbrush or pen in my hand.
What Is "The Night Circus"?
"From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life." If this quote sounds oddly familiar to you, it's probably because it's from the renowned play "Romeo and Juliet" (by William Shakespeare). You may be wondering: how can a story about a circus have anything to do with a play by Shakespeare? Well, the answer to this question is simple. Erin Morgenstern (the author of "The Night Circus") is brilliant! With a clear love for all things Shakespearean, Morgenstern has put a unique spin on a tale of two lovers, bound by fate.
The story takes place in the late 1800s, following Celia Bowen. At a very young age, her mother committed suicide. From there Celia is sent to live with her father Hector Bowen (also known as Prospero The Enchanter). Her father is considered to be a magician, but little to public knowledge he is not just managing simple parlor tricks but using actual magic to achieve otherwise impossible feats. From their first encounter, when Celia accidentally breaks a teacup without touching it during a temper tantrum he knows his daughter is a natural in the arts of magic. Jumping at the opportunity to enter her in a challenge against his longtime "friend" Mr. A.H. Also an enchanter but unlike Hector his views on magic are more simplistic, feeling it is a skill best left private and certainly not used for profitable gain.
Mr. A.H agrees to the game, having the advantage of knowing who will be competing for Hector (his daughter Celia) he goes to his local orphanage to pick out a suitable champion. A young boy who later names himself Marco Alisdair. Many years pass, with Celia and Marco's only concerns training for the competition to which they are totally clueless about the rules and objective of the game.
When the stage is finally set in an exquisite circus of black and white, otherwise known as The Cirque de Reves. The Circus is "Odd strange, not bad strange" opening at dawn and closing at dusk. Celia and Marco now have a battlefield, creating tents and objects throughout the circus with the use of magical manipulation, gradually, but surely falling in love in the process.
"Secrets have power, and that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well."
— Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
I'll start with the bad news first.
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This book starts with an intriguing emotional high and unfortunately falls into a deep lull for about the entire second act. In my opinion, the author spent a little too much time developing the atmosphere of the circus and not quite enough time developing vital relationships.
However, with that being said, I believe there was a method to Morgenstern's method for once you get past the dreaded lull, everything comes together and the lull makes total sense. Even I dare say makes the story a little better.
The whole point in 1 sentence!
"I confess" Marco says "I don't fully understand the point, even after all this time."
— Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
Okay now that we ripped off the bandage on the bad news, let's talk about all the juicy goodness that follows.
- Atmosphere. In the book, it describes how when you enter the circus every meticulous detail is covered. This is a gross simplification of to what extent the author describes the detail. I felt as though I was constantly walking through someone else's dream... incredible.
- Plot. Remember that dreaded lull we talked about earlier well that's because I am simply impatient. I wanted to know the point of this game between Marco and Celia right off the bat. I felt as though I were missing something in the writing that was right in front of my nose... well, guess what: you're not. It's planned! Once you get to the end of this novel (without giving anything away) all your questions will be answered.
- Cliffhangers. Epic cliffhangers are something you should get accustomed to in this novel, because once they start, good luck stopping them. At one moment I was reading in bed thinking "ok one of these nice descriptive light chapters where nothing overly relevant happens then BOOM!!!" sorry that's all I can tell you.
- Romance. A true Romeo and Juliet romance develops throughout the entire story. You can feel it developing from start to finish!
- The End. I am a firm believer that any story can be incredible with the right ending and though I was becoming concerned during the second act that I was wasting my time. I was pleasantly surprised with an ending that took a 3-star book to a 5-star read.
In conclusion, if you are in need of a story that takes you on an otherworldly experience, mixed with beauty, love, and tragedy. Please, I implore you to read this novel and make it through the little lull, for once you do I genuinely believe you'll be as infatuated with this story as I am. It may even find its way into your dreams!
Sarah Cook from Wasaga Beach on August 02, 2018:
Great review! Sounds interesting, I might make this my next read!