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The Night Circus

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Age Group: Adult

Synopsis: Two extremely talented workers of illusion and magic are manipulated and trained for playing a game of skill that lasts years and has unforeseen consequences. Enveloped in a world beyond the most fantastical imaginings and bound by an oath neither of them made, their destinies are entwined with those around them and their competition will consume everything. Unless, they’re able to outmaneuver those that have placed them in this position to begin with.

 

 


The Low Down:

The Night Circus isn’t just a toe-dip into fantasy, it’s a plunge that requires you to be alert and aware through the entire experience. It takes place in the not so distant past and greatly reminds me of a steam punk dream. There’s really no other way to explain a novel that is so filled with twists, turns, and completely unexpected departures from reality.

The story is broken into different perspectives: Celia: third person, Marco: third person, and the reader: second person. There are other supporting characters that receive their own third person accounts as well. They are scattered among the pages giving a much needed to perspective to a book whose plot can seem like it’s the labyrinth tent in the circus. Confusing but so entertaining that you don’t realize you’re lost. The chapters are not in chronological order, which makes it very confusing at times and is the reason I strongly recommend reading a hard copy. My sister tried listening to it on audio book and found that she was trying to remember which dates the previous chapters had and almost felt dizzy trying to keep track. It was much better to be able to just flip back and forth between chapter titles, in order to figure out what happened when.

We follow Celia and Marco from childhood, if it can be called a childhood, and watch them grow up and struggle with their place in the world. They’ve both been trained by two very talented workers of magic. We know that they are bound to preform in, what is referenced to as, the game but no one seems to know the rules, besides the two mentors. My frustration was only relieved in knowing that Celia and Marco felt the same way. Completely unaware of what this game was, the rules, or even how to know who won and when. It tied me to the two characters in a way that I’d not experienced before.

When I sit back and look at the plot, it’s clever but not amazingly so. It’s really the imagery that is brought to life through Morgenstern’s writing that make this novel a truly unique experience. Every chapter brings me in contact with something I never imagined possible, or even imaginable. Morgenstern’s creativity seems to mirror the circus, in that in knows no bounds. As with any novel there were highs and lows, I hit a slump when we began revisiting Bailey but pushed through in hopes of the next chapter being about Celia. I will admit that she was my favorite character and I had to often stop myself from skipping ahead to see what happened to her next. It was all a memorable experience and while reading it I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to know what happened next, trying to figure out how everything fit together. I’m not sure if I could have figured it out but that makes it all the more fun.

I’ll end with a quote from the book that really spoke to me:

“It’s important […] Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.” (Page 483)


Story Tips:

  1. Read it on a hard copy, unless you are super quick at flipping back and forth on your e-reader.

I need more!

Erin Morgenstern is currently working on an unnamed book about an unnamed topic available at an unnamed date. Until then we wait with bated breath.


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3 Responsesso far.

  1. Tracy G says:

    I liked Bailey, and kept wondering what was happening to him. I think I liked him because he was searching, and he had a choice, he wasn’t placed in the circus by anything but his own will.

    I too like this book and the imagination that created each segment.

    • Wendy says:

      What a great way of thinking about Bailey. I love hearing other people’s impression on novels especially when they make us think about our own perceptions. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Steph says:

    Great review! I actually loved listening to this book on my drive from Denver to San Diego, and I found that listening to Morgenstern’s descriptive writing actually allowed me to visualize her detailed scenes with ease. I felt like I was completely immersed in the circus, like the audience. My favorite character was Marco. I would love to read more of her work.

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