Book Review: The Night Circus

And there are really never endings, happy or otherwise.

~ The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis

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 breath-taking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it only opens at night.

But the circus is merely an illusion; behind the scenes, a battle is raging – a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can survive, and the circus is the stage for this test of imagination and will. Yet Celia and Marco fall in love – a deep, magical love that threatens the very fabric of the circus.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the visitors, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Review

I’d heard so much about this book. It sounded wonderful, full of magic, intrigue and history. And it was a remarkable story. The more I think about it, the more I liked it, but while I was reading it I was never sure if I was enjoying it. There are so many characters, multiple parallel stories and the action shifts back and forwards between different dates and years.

Once you get used to Morgenstern’s unusual writing style, the words begin to wash around you in a poetic way: the characters become real and the atmosphere ensnares you. For the circus itself is a wondrous thing, full of darkness, magic and excitement. With each page I found myself desperate to visit the circus, to experience the different tents, taste the tantalising creations and marvel at the animals.

Yet the true story, as it were, takes a while to get going, as the backstory and myriad characters are introduced. Celia and Marco’s story loses itself behind the flaps of the tent, Bailey’s naïve dreams and the clockmaker’s wizardry. Their entangled enmity and love detracts from the real magic that makes you hungry for the next page; the conclusion when it comes, disappointing and predictable.

There are some plot twists, tragic deaths and heart racing moments, but the real essence of this book is the circus. For who would not want to enter a land of dreams, where anything is possible and reality is left at the gates…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you ever been to a circus? What was your favourite act?

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