This review is spoiler-free.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: September 13th 2011
Format: Paperback, 512 pages
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
The first thing I want to say about this book is in regards to its cover (which, I know isn’t the original cover, nor is it the international release cover, but this is the version I bought at Target during Christmas): it’s beautiful. And it’s a cut-out to the original cover design on the back.
I love it and I want to display it on my bookshelves, but I don’t have the room.
(I should make room.)
Now that I’ve got that out, I’ll get onto the actual book review.
The Night Circus is the type of book that stuck with me the moment I cracked it open due to the way it’s written, which I was almost expecting to end after the first part had finished. Morgenstern wrote the book in a way that made it feel like, despite being someone reading the story, you were definitely a spectator to the events unfolding at every single moment, unlike other books where I completely forget I’m a spectator in the story. It was really a perfect way of writing for a story that mainly takes place in the world of a travelling circus, and for the era that the story takes place in. It gives it a real magical feeling, which is a huge part of what the book is about.
Something I did have trouble with as I read on in the book was the fact the dates are not linear in their presentation, often you’ll be skipped ahead or behind a fair number of years and then brought back or thrust forward once you’ve gotten past the chapter. It wasn’t impossible to keep track of things once you were reading the story, but it did require a hearty chunk of attention while reading to make sure I was aware of what was going on. (There are dates, don’t worry, you’re not shoved into the chapter wondering when you’re reading.) It definitely makes sure that you’re not wandering as you read, because if you do, you could miss a point to the story that will be necessary to remember as you go.
That being said, the flow of the story is fantastic. You’re thrown all over the place as you’re reading along, watching different moments and different characters that you know have a relation to each other but that you’re not expecting to be more than what you see, but then you get to the end and suddenly it’s like you’re not so sure you gave the book all the time you needed to in order to fully understand its contents and what you were looking in on because suddenly everything is together and working in one setting and those couple of things that seemed unnecessary before suddenly meant something.
It was a little longer than I liked, and there were a few slow parts that I felt somewhat unnecessary (never a whole chapter, though, just moments), but overall I really enjoyed everything that was given to me in this story. I originally had given it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads, but because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story and the way it was written, I decided to go back and push that up to a 5. If I was so engrossed in it even after putting it down like that, I think it deserved a full helping of all the stars I can give it.
The Night Circus is a wild ride, and although it’ll be a while before I have a chance to read it again (so I can catch what I missed and make sure to pay attention in parts I thought were unnecessary), I do recommend it to anyone who might be intrigued and is willing to put up with some boring, dense moments that might possibly actually be important later on.
Thanks for reading!