Book Review: The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern
The night 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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
A Sneak Peek Into “The Night Circus”
NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 1873
The man billed as Prospero the Enchanter receives a fair amount of correspondence via the theater office, but this is the first envelope addressed to him that contains a suicide note, and it is also the first to arrive carefully pinned to the coat of a five-year-old girl.
The lawyer who escorts her to the theater refuses to explain despite the manager’s protestations, abandoning her as quickly as he can with no more than a shrug and the tip of a hat.
The theater manager does not need to read the envelope to know who the girl is for. The bright eyes peering out from under a cloud of unruly brown curls are smaller, wider versions of the magician’s own.
He takes her by the hand, her small fingers hanging limp within his. She refuses to remove her coat despite the warmth of the theater, giving only an adamant shake of her head when he asks her why.
“Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”
The manager takes the girl to his office, not knowing what else to do with her. She sits quietly on an uncomfortable chair beneath a line of framed posters advertising past productions, surrounded by boxes of tickets and receipts. The manager brings her a cup of tea with an extra lump of sugar, but it remains on the desk, untouched, and grows cold.
The girl does not move, does not fidget in her seat. She stays perfectly still with her hands folded in her lap. Her gaze is fixed downward, focused on her boots that do not quite touch the floor. There is a small scuff on one toe, but the laces are knotted in perfect bows.
The sealed envelope hangs from the second topmost button of her coat, until Prospero arrives.
She hears him before the door opens, his footsteps heavy and echoing in the hall, unlike the measured pace of the manager who has come and gone several times, quiet as a cat.
“There is also a … package for you, sir,” the manager says as he opens the door, ushering the magician into the cramped office before slipping off to attend to other theater matters, having no desire to witness what might become of this encounter.
Prospero the Enchanter’s immediate reaction upon meeting his daughter is a simple declaration of: “Well, fuck.”
The girl returns her attention to her boots.
The magician closes the door behind him, dropping the stack of letters on the desk next to the teacup as he looks at the girl.
He rips the envelope from her coat, leaving the pin clinging steadfastly to its button.
While the writing on the front bears his stage name and the theater address, the letter inside greets him with his given name, Hector Bowen.
He skims over the contents, any emotional impact desired by the author failing miserably and finally. He pauses at the only fact he deems relevant: that this girl now left in his custody is, obviously, his own daughter and that her name is Celia.
“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”
“She should have named you Miranda,” the man called Prospero the Enchanter says to the girl with a chuckle. “I suppose she was not clever enough to think of it.”
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 back 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 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 expression 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.
He makes several attempts to rename her in the following weeks, but she refuses to respond to anything but Celia.
SEVERAL MONTHS LATER, once he decides she is ready, the magician writes a letter of his own. He includes no address, but it reaches its destination across the ocean nonetheless.
3 Words to Sum Up This Book
Dreamy, Mystical, Festive
I know, I know. Your girl is extremely late into the hype, but golly jolly if this book hasn’t been a feast from start to end. I can’t exactly say I am glad to have put off reading The Night Circus for as long as I did, but at the same time, a small part of me also believe that you need to kinda be in the right mindset to enjoy this novel.
You know those first books that made you a reader instead of someone who picks up reading from time to time? The Night Circus is one of them. Had this novel been my first read, your girl would have fallen head over heels for books––not saying that I’m not already. The Night Circus was simply exquisite and written in the most compelling and magical way possible. It is rare for a book to be able to remind me why I love reading in the first place, and why I love books as much as I do, but somehow, The Night Circus manages to evoke those emotions within me with its lyrical proses.
To be honest, I am not sure what The Night Circus classifies as in book genres or whether or not romance is also amongst one of its genres, but for me, The Night Circus has always been a story about love.
It’s a story about 2 kids who have been sworn to each other ever since they were a child into a game that they have not yet understand. Fast forward a decade or so later, when they met each other for the first time on a rainy day somewhere in London, it was love at first sight.
One of them might have known sooner than the other, but at the end of the day, The Night Circus–its magical world, the creations of tents and people in and around it, all exists because of the game. And it is through the game, this magic challenge where the two sworn kids–now adults–profess their love for one another. Not through words, but actions and creations.
LESS COULD BE BETTER, SOMETIMES
If you have been following this blog for a while, then you know that your girl is a sucker for romance. The more the better. I have always preferred the more suggestive and raunchy kind of romance, the ones where they get it on in the back of a car because they just can’t stand being separated for even a few hours. Those types of romances always are so fun to read because it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to understand the plot. Which are perfect for when one just doesn’t feel like reading anything too brain-consuming.
But after reading The Night Circus, I found out sometimes, stolen glances and longing touches could be just as delicious of a read, if not more. Both the main characters didn’t get to spend a lot of time with one another, even when they do, those are only for brief moments. This left me wanting and lusting for more, and Ms. Morgenstern is just enough of a tease that she gave the reader enough, but never too much.
It is always a treat to read a book that is so well written and well described that one can see, taste, and hear their surroundings. For me personally, I also prefer books that are more fast-paced with a whole lot more action than descriptions. I don’t know what is different about The Night Circus, but reading through its description of the circus, the cities, and people don’t feel like a slog.
On the contrary, I was so into it that there were times where I would read way past my bedtime and had to force myself to sleep instead of continuing reading until morning.
PLOT AND ENDING
Now, although the plot to The Night Circus is creative, I wouldn’t say that it is mindblowing or out of this world. The pace of the book overall is quite slow (which I don’t really mind because it is very well written), and the ending feels a bit weak for me. While the storytelling and the storyline are ones that we don’t see every day, the ending is a bit surprising albeit disappointing. I was expecting the book to go out with a bang instead of puttering out like a dying fish.
All in all, though, The Night Circus is still a very highly enjoyable book, but I just wished that the tension could have been kept up until the very end.
“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience,
at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
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