All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

on May 16, 2013

Night CircusThe Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
Harvill Secker
2011, 387p
Read from my TBR pile

The circus arrives without warning. It is simply there when yesterday it was not….

Cities all over the world await the arrival of a special circus – Le Cirque des Rêves. It arrives out of no where, the white and black striped tents springing up out of thin air. It is open only at night – sundown to sun up. In each tent is something different – an illusionist, a hall of magic mirror, a land of clouds. One night is not enough and many patrons go back night after night until one day when the circus is simply gone, springing up somewhere else in another city.

Behind the scenes of the circus, a great competition is underway. Celia is the daughter of a great illusionist known as Prospero who has performed all over the world. She didn’t meet him until she was 6 when her mother, tired of waiting for him to return, sent her to him. Prospero sees a great potential in Celia, who seems to possess the same gifts that he does. He contacts an old friend, determined to pose a familiar wager.

And so Celia is her father’s instrument, his friend Alexander must locate and train his own and he finds a young orphan named Marco. The battle is yet to be decided, in an unknown location but it will continue until there is a winner. Celia doesn’t know who her opponent is, or even really what the game itself is. She carries on the way she has been taught by her father: when he deems her ready, she joins Les Cirque des Rêves and performs night after night for the patrons, her illusions breathtaking.

Marco has known who his opponent was from the moment he laid eyes upon her but he has as much understanding of the competition as Celia herself. Despite the fact that he knows they are opponents, the two of them fall headlong into love. Their love is powerful, consuming and magical. But it is this love that forces the hand of the ringmasters – and the game finally becomes known to both of them in a terrifying reveal.

I’ve been wanting to read The Night Circus since I first heard about it some time ago. I even borrowed it from my local library but didn’t get around to it in the time I was allowed to have it and had to send it back as there were requests on it. I found it cheap in an online store and purchased it but it wasn’t until it was the May selection for my new face-to-face bookclub that I actually got around to reading it. I read it on the day of the meeting because I sort of lost track of the dates and thought I had another week. I’m so glad I finally read it! This book is magical.

There’s really no other way to describe it. It’s rich with the wildest of imaginations – Erin Morgenstern has developed a world within a world here with the circus of Les Cirque des Rêves. Celia begins the novel as a shy, frightened girl of 6, who doesn’t know her father and perhaps doesn’t know what to think of him. Marco likewise starts out as an orphan with little in the way of prospects. The two of them end up as opponents on a glittering stage – the circus, although rarely do they come into contact. As the illusionist, Celia travels with the circus and Marco stays in London, controlling things from his end in his way. With every turn of the page, I was further drawn into this wonderful circus and the mysteries that surround it, such as how does it reach its destinations so swiftly, in such an era? Why is no one aging? All of those things hovered at the edge of my mind, which was much more occupied with the beautiful descriptions of the circus and the tents and the love story that began to develop between Celia and Marco.

Because The Night Circus is a love story. Celia and Marco fall hopelessly in love and want nothing more than to be together. Unfortunately they learn that their love could be nothing short of hopeless, because as they are voicing their wants and desires, they are finding out the true extent of this competition they are bound in and just precisely how it can end. That lends a touch of the tragedy to it – star crossed lovers in a very unusual way. Their instructors are not sympathetic to their predicament, nor are they inclined to be generous in terms of deciding a winner by changing the way the game must play out. And while I loved absolutely everything about this book, I have to admit, the end did let me down a little. I’d have liked a little more explanation devoted to exactly what happened and how it was decided rather than just being written in the stars. That might’ve been part of the charm of the book but it seemed that everything else happened for a reason, right down to the smallest things, even the way in which the twin characters were born – one looking back, one looking forward. In comparison, the end did feel a bit fuzzy (and this was a general consensus at bookclub as well). It wasn’t disappointing, it didn’t change the way in which I felt about the book, it just seemed to be lacking that something that the rest of the book had contained. I love that there was an ending which richly and deeply satisfied a part of me, although there was another small part of me that said ‘hmm, I’d have liked to know more about this’. But this is still a beautifully written, wonderfully constructed book, a world so incredibly intricate and delicate – balanced on a knife edge in a game of push-pull as two opponents strive towards an end they don’t really have any idea of. For a first novel, this is a truly remarkable effort.


Book #121 of 2013

LitExp ChallengeI’m counting The Night Circus towards my participation in the Literary Exploration challenge and using it to tick off the Magical Realism category. It’s the 7th novel completed.



5 responses to “The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

  1. For a NANOWRIMO novel this is a truly remarkable effort. I’m glad you finally read this one, I think it was one of my top reads in 2011

    • I definitely agree…and I love seeing NaNo efforts get published and become successful. It was a very enjoyable book and the imagining that went into it was masterful. I will be very interested to see what her next book is like.

  2. Books, Tea & Me says:

    I’ve been meaning to read it too, along with all my other to-reads. Great review!

  3. Marg says:

    I was surprised by how lukewarm some people were about this book. I really liked it a lot when I read it last year.

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