Sometimes there are books that are 400 pages long but feel like 800 (ahem, “Katherines”), and sometimes there are books that are 400 that you wish were 800 pages long. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern falls solidly into the latter category. Onto the cut-link to read more of my incoherent rambling over my latest, favorite brain-fuel book.
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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart. (source)
Good God. There are absolutely no words for the feelings I have for this book. I want to marry this book. I want to go on dates with this book. I want to have this book’s illegitimate children. (Alright, that last one might have been a bit much.) The best thing I can probably say is that this book is, quite literally, pure magic. Morgenstern’s prose is flawless and paints a picture of the circus as vividly as if I was there myself, and by the end of that last 387th page, I closed the book and I felt as though my life would never be the same again.
“The Night Circus” is not the kind of book you read for a little light reading to pass the time. However, if you’re looking for a book that will pull you in from the first page, a book that will take you to another world and make you forget even your own name, then “The Night Circus” is the book for you.
My only complaint is that the plot / summary as shown above is rather misleading. The ‘fierce competition’ I found to not be so fierce, although I quickly forgot about that detail upon watching Celia Bowen turn her jacket into a raven, or experiencing the lighting of the circus’s white bonfire, or finding out Tsukiko’s secret, or – well, you get the idea. The aforementioned ‘fierce competition’ wasn’t anything you might expect – no heart-pounding action sequences or cutthroat competition, but more like a game of chess; subtle, carefully crafted, every plan thought out ten steps ahead. Also, if you’re reading the book for the romance between Celia and Marco, I suggest you (1) find another, more predictably cliche YA novel or (2) not get your hopes up. As they first meet well into the story (probably somewhere in or past the middle), this is not another YA novel that centers on the whole ‘boy meets girl’ angle in a setting of choice. Yes, the love between Celia and Marco is beautiful. Yes, their romance drives many of the events after their meeting, but “The Night Circus” is not just a romance. It’s a story within a story – no, several stories within one story, layered and crafted together beautifully. (Like a wedding cake.)
In short, I’m in love with this book. However, I do not recommend this book for people who cannot easily see the big picture in a story / get confused or bored easily, as the book jumps around, timeline-wise, quite a bit. BUT, for anyone who is not any of those things, and is looking for an amazing find, I definitely recommend “The Night Circus.”
Above is the actual cover of the book, or at least, the cover that the FVHS library has in stock. The header picture before the cut-link is one that I found on Google / Deviantart. It’s a book sculpture of Le Cirque des Rêves, and I found it incredibly creative. Credit to its creator and wherever else it’s needed.