Review: The Night Circus

the-night-circus“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.” – Goodreads

I’m so conflicted about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It was a strange read for me, in that I liked it – yet at the same time, I did not like it. Allow me to explain.

I like things to be happening in the books that I read. Whether it be detailed introspection by a singular character, or interaction between multiple characters, I want things to be moving along. I need that… sense of life imbued upon the pages. For the first half of The Night Circus, this was very rare. There was quite a lot of descriptive language: about people, about objects, and most certainly about the circus and its attractions and performers. Don’t get me wrong – it was beautiful, magical language and I would have appreciated it much more had there been much less of it. About two-thirds of the way through the novel, things started moving right along – and I became a happy, happy woman. When Marco and Celia finally met – fireworks exploded! It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship – between myself, and The Night Circus.

Here’s a rundown of the basic story: Magician father has daughter (Celia) with super-powers. His arch-rival trains student (Marco) in the art of magic, as well. Father and arch-rival  bind the two children to a life-long duel of wits and powers that only one will survive. What no one expects is for love to blossom in the middle of this life-or-death battle. How the two young lovers attempt to transcend their fate will put their powers to the ultimate test.

The Night Circus also entertains quite the cast of unique and enchanting supporting characters. We have Tsukiko, the Japanese contortionist. Isobel, the tarot-card reading spy. Poppet and Widget, the flame-haired young twins born the opening night of the circus. Last, but not least, Bailey – who may just be the savior of the Circus in the end.

As mentioned previously, the pacing in this novel is off. For a book about an intense battle and love story, things did not begin to become intense until the last third of the novel. While I sincerely enjoyed the love story (I’m pretty much a big sap, sad but true) there was no real catalyst for it – the romance basically bloomed merely because the author deemed it so. While this was enough for me, more demanding readers might be a bit more skeptical.

I truly did enjoy The Night Circus once things began to move along for me. While I’m not generally a fan of magic and fantasy in my literature, it was just subtle enough in this novel so as not to offend me. By the time the book ended, I had forgotten my frustration with the beginning pages, and was left with the wonder of the magic and beauty of the last. I do not regret this read, and you won’t either.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Buy it, read it, love it.

3 stars

Source: Free Library of Philadelphia



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2 thoughts on “Review: The Night Circus

  1. alenaslife says:

    I was so glad to see this book show up on your blog as it is one of my favorite reads. It’s interesting that the elements that I enjoyed most — the evocative language and slow unspooling of the story — were your least favorite. I actually wanted to chop off the last 50 pages of the novel. For me, Morgensterns brilliance lies in her ability to create a setting. I’m so glad it worked for you in the end and you’re able to recommend it.

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