“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.”
It took me a bit to get into this book. I bought The Night Circus on a whim after seeing all the hype regarding it on bookstagram. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was worried it would be overhyped. At first I wasn’t sure I would like it due to its unusual (and sometimes confusing) way of storytelling, but this turned out to be a beautiful piece of fiction once I chose to stick with it. There is magic, mystery, a sense of time travel – the story is told through a non-linear timeline – and a healthy dose of forbidden love.
I loved the description of magic and how much of a focal point it was. The way Celia could change the color of her dress, the color bleeding across the fabric like ink, was just one of the fascinating parts of The Night Circus. Magic was not simply placed in this book – it was woven in with great attention to detail.
In a way, I felt that the “competition” that the main characters, Celia and Marco, competed in was lacking. The summary describes it as a “fierce competition…a duel between two young magicians…who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.” However, for most of the story, no one – not even the main characters – know what the game entails! They are constantly told that the game has rules, and yet they are never spoken of. Indeed, most of their time is spent building Le Cirque des Rêves, their arena per se, and designing magical tents for or with each other. I didn’t understand where the “fierce” part was in this competition, but there was still tension between the two competitors.
There was one other thing about the book that took me a long time to get used to, and that was the writing style. For the sake of not spoiling the story, I will keep this part rather vague. The story was all over the place, which was a bit confusing at times – one moment, we were listening to one character’s conversation with a mysterious shadow, and the next we were catapulted backward in time to meet one of the new performers for the Circus.
And due to the way the book was written, I constantly felt as if I were not quite in the story – as if I were reading a newspaper article (albeit a fascinating, magical one) or standing outside a room, looking through a window as the characters moved about inside their world. I have read many books that pulled me into the story and set me right beside the characters, but this book was different. I felt like I was held at arm’s length so as not to feel too included. However, at the end, this way of writing made perfect sense, and I was glad that I did not let it put me off from finishing the book.
What I loved most about The Night Circus was that Erin Morgenstern had a knack for describing her world in such a magical, captivating way. After finishing the book, I wished Le Cirque des Rêves did indeed exist because I would totally join the rêveurs! The living statues, the clock that chimes for the opening of the Circus, the never-ending exploration of the magical tents, the “fantastically delicious cinnamon things” – I would never want to leave!
My rating: 4.5 Stars
Cussing, innuendos, character death including suicide, two characters who are involved in a romantic relationship spend a night together, multiple references to supernatural/paranormal powers. Recommended for 15+.