Sunday, 11 August 2013

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus
Source: Goodreads
Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Series: no
Published: 2011 by Vintage Books (Random House)
Source of book: I bought it

Synopsis from Goodreads
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.
My review
The Night Circus dumbfounded me. I imagined it would be something quite different – more normal, or predictable, or such – but it snatched my expectations away and shook them until they fell into pieces at my feet. And then it enchanted them into a flock of pure white doves…

The plot

The beginning piqued my curiosity immediately by its uniqueness and somehow, vagueness (as though it places key hints but reveals, in fact, nothing) – a magician and a curious grey-suited man meet and make a magically binding deal involving the magician’s daughter and another, not yet chosen child.
From that moment on Morgenstern starts to spin a fantastical tale which feels slow at first, introducing the reader to people and their stories at a gradual pace. After a while I grew used to this style of writing and it felt natural concerning the storyline and the era. I became invested in practically all the characters’ little intertwining stories, and was hungrily curious to what it would all add up to in the end.
It has to be said that this novel has a complex, convoluted, sometimes nearly confusingly immense and multifaceted plot, involving thousands of little twists, hints and details. Sometimes this felt unnecessary, like there was too much information and detail to digest, but sometimes, as the storylines gradually twisted themselves together, it felt just right. In many ways it suits the circus because it is, as well, convoluted and complicated, and yet an entity.


The world-building

And oh, how I love the circus… I dream to experience such magic. The main setting to The Night Circus is of course Le Cirque de Rêves, and I applaud Morgenstern for this astounding, simply spellbinding venue. The circus is quite other, and I love its strangeness, the tangible magic that can be sensed inside its perimeter, all the different performers and tents. The imagination behind it all strikes me silent.

The late nineteenth century was described well, in my opinion. Though I am no professional in this time period it felt to me like the historical setting burst from the pages. I liked to watch the circus move around, as well, through many different countries, though the different cultures of its destinations could have been brought to light more.


The characters

With a unique circus there have to be unique people. In that aspect, I wasn’t disappointed and found the personalities of the characters to be diverse and intriguing. Perhaps they weren’t all exactly likeable, but I was interested by their roles in the story and their relation to the circus. The main characters Celia and Marco were appealing to me, and I became fond of the twins, Bailey and the clockmaker Thiessen.
Though I had the impression that The Night Circus was a love story, I personally think after reading it that it isn’t, really. It’s true that there is a romance aspect but in my opinion the circus itself is the core of the story. This wasn’t a bad thing; I enjoyed reading about a non-living thing being so crucial to a novel.

4-/5 Though sometimes a bit long-winded, The Night Circus is a feat of awe-inspiring imagination and a novel that enchants!


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