The Night Circus is the debut novel by Erin Morgenstern. It was published by Harvill Secker on 15th September 2011 and the book is 387 pages long.
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.
What I thought
As soon as I heard about this book, I was dying to read it. Everything about it sounded exactly like something I would love – from the initial idea of the book to the final copy, which has beautiful black edged pages. Unfortunately though, I had a lot of books I needed to read first and I didn’t even have a copy of this. My lovely friend Kirsty gave me an ARC and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.
The book begins full of mystery. In a chapter called Anticipation, Erin Morgenstern gives readers a small insight into what is about to come. The circus is about to arrive and no one knows anything about it. It ‘Opens at midnight, closes at dawn’. The first descriptions of the circus were magical and intriguing and I couldn’t wait to find out what was actually going to happen here, let alone who would be a part of it. This is definitely the way to start a book and to get readers hooked!
The Night Circus is told from multiple perspectives which enables the story to be told from all point of views. The story is also told in the past tense which is something I’m generally not too keen on but with this book, it didn’t bother me at all. The Night Circus spans multiple decades and flits from one year to another throughout. While this sounds like it should be extremely confusing, I wasn’t confused at all. I knew exactly what was going on all of the time and I knew what year the book was currently in. Considering how all over the place the time line of this book is, it was super easy to follow and I wasn’t expecting that at all.
The Night Circus tells the tale of Celia and Marco, two people entered in a game by their guardians. Neither player knows what the game consists of nor do they know the rules. They don’t even know who they are playing against. All they know is that they are bound to this game whether they like it or not. Both players are in fact magicians, just like their guardians. One guardian believes that the skill of magic is born in someone and the other believes it can be learned. I loved the contrast that each character had in this respect and because of the way they were brought up, Celia and Marco have very different ideas about the way that things should be.
As both characters grow, both in age and in wisdom and talent, I grew to love them more and more. Celia, being a main feature of the circus itself, comes to learn of the things she is capable of and how she should be using her gifts. Marco on the other hand does learn more of the things he is capable of but also he learns how to use them in very special ways. The things Marco can do are extremely different compared with Celia but both of their gifts are amazing and wonderful. The way in which their gifts are described is absolutely stunning. The imagines I had in my head were something that dreams are made of and I loved every minute of picturing what they could create in my head.
This is where the circus comes in. Although the book revolves around Celia and Marco, the main focus is really on the circus. Le Cirque des Rêves. It really is the circus of dreams in every sense possible. Inside a black and white big top are lots of different, smaller tents, each different from the next. Inside are the most wonderful and strange attractions/ people you could ever possibly think of. Every tiny detail had been thought of in this setting down to what everything looked like to the foods being sold as well as the people who visit the circus. I could imagine being there myself and wondering about which tents I would want to go to first and what I would find there if I could go. This circus is one of the most magical and mystical places I have ever read about and I so desperately wanted it to be real.
As the circus has many different tents, there are also many other characters than Celia and Marco. I loved the other characters involved in the circus although some of them weren’t used nearly enough. Poppet and Widget, the twins, were by far my favourite of secondary characters. They brought a fun and youthful element to the story which was a lovely thing considering by this point, Celia and Marco were a lot older and more mature. Their parts of the story were very entertaining and a little bit different to the rest of it but still as magical.
The thing about this book is that it isn’t extremely exciting and while there is romance, it isn’t full of passion. I’ve been thinking of how to describe the pacing for a long time but it is so hard! While a lot does happen, it is over the span of many years and due to them being really spread out, it never seems as though much does actually happen. I would say it is more interesting, well thought out and extremely inventive than anything else but I still loved it regardless. There have only been a couple of books this year for me that have been completely amazing. This is at the top of my list!