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I love reading books and read several a month. However it is rare for me to find a "special book" - a book I will love and want to keep forever and read over and over again. The Night Circus is one of those books and I loved it so much that I read it twice in a row back to back!
I first bought the book as part of a deal (probably a buy one get one free) and did not have any immediate expectations that it would be as wonderful as it was. In fact the front cover actually put me off a bit (maybe because it looked like a historical novel which is not one of my favourite genres) and I kept it in my bookcase for several weeks before getting round to reading it. The author- Erin Morgenstern - is unknown and this is her first novel so I had no knowledge about her style of writing or any previous works to compare the book with. However when I started the book I was hooked within a few pages and transported to a magical world.
The front cover of the novel has the quote "breathtaking" on it from a review by The Times and this is the exact word I would use to describe the whole book. The language is beautiful and so evocative that straight away I was immersed in the story. The novel starts with a description of a circus arriving in town - it is a circus, but not like any circus you could ever imagine. It arrives magically at different venues out of the blue and is only open at night. To begin with it looks empty and deserted but as night falls the circus sign slowly flickers alight and the circus opens it doors and comes to life. People flock through the doors not knowing what to expect, and as the reader at the beginning of the book you feel the same excitement and uncertainty as to what is going to happen.
It is very difficult to explain the plot of the book without giving too much away. The author has transported situations we think we know about, e.g. what a circus and magic is, into something so much more and so imaginative. The circus itself is like a character that grows throughout the book. It is not a traditional circus but one made up of different and ever changing tents full of magical and amazing experiences. There are dancing kittens, fortunetellers, a tent where you can climb into the clouds, an ice garden, a magic cauldron and the constant smell and atmosphere of toffee apples and bonfires. It is so evocative you really feel like you are there.
In the setting of the circus a battle and a love story are played out between two young magicians Celia and Marco (real magic not the type that just involves tricks!) whose parents/guardians force them into a contest to out-maneuver each other to prove their brilliance. As the story progresses the consequences of this contest become more and more serious, yet at the same time the developing (and forbidden) love between the two characters grows and the reader is desperate to find a way for them both to survive and win the battle.
The story is set in the Victorian times, yet is also totally timeless (no-one in the circus ages!) It is cleverly constructed with a second more modern time line involving a young boy Bailey visiting the circus who eventually becomes a key player in the situation when the two time lines meet. If you read the book very carefully there is also a third time line (I only noticed this on the second reading) which gives you clues as to who has survived in the circus in today's time (when you read the book notice the email address on the business card in the end chapter and then go back and re-read the undated sections where someone is walking through the circus and you will realise it is written as if it is today and spot some key characters to find out how they are years after the story ends!)
I cannot recommend this book enough but know that it will not be everyone's cup of tea! It is so evocative, beautiful and imaginative with a brilliant set of characters that really come to life. It is fantasy, but can't really be compared to any other types of fantasy books that are out there. However if you like your books with a lot of realism and action then this will not be the book for you!
The author is very young - only in her early twenties- so I can't wait to see what she writes next. For a first novel this is a brilliant start to her career!
This review might also be posted on Ciao under my username Star20000
It was some time ago that a fellow reviewer suggested I might enjoy The Night Circus. The reason it took me so long to read it was that somewhere I came across a review or description of the novel which used the term "magical realism". The only books I have knowingly read in that genre were at university, and I didn't get on with them very well.
Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus is about a mysterious circus which seems to arrive out of nowhere and opens at dusk. Full of fantastic shows and experiences, visitors are captivated by it. The novel has two timelines in it, the present being 1902 and the past being over the course of several years in the late nineteenth century which eventually joins with the present. It follows the inception of the circus and its success, while the present is about a boy named Bailey who lives for when the circus is in town.
The two timelines are not confusing, but they do seem to be quite intertwined, even at the start when they are quite far apart in time and events. It's easy to forget that Bailey's experiences of the circus are coming quite a while after what we read about in the sections about the past.
While I enjoyed the story and style of The Night Circus right from the start, it took a while for me to really want to keep reading. I kept reading because it wasn't a bad novel at all, but it wasn't until at least halfway through the novel that I actually wanted to find out what was going on, to such an extent that I took a break from The Night Circus to reread The Lord of the Rings in full. However, once it got its hooks into me, it became a real page-turner. There was so much that had to be explained, and so many things to be resolved. As it turned out, I'm not certain that everything was explained fully, as I don't think I could recount it here, but the novel came to an acceptable conclusion, and even had what could be called a happy ending.
The writing of The Night Circus is very good, but where Morgenstern really excels is in her descriptions of the circus itself. For all that it is a mysterious and fantastic place, her descriptions are so evocative that you really can build a picture of the circus, and almost feel you can smell the food stalls, hear the amazement of the crowds, and picture all the magical exhibits they see. Saying that, my favourite has to be one of the most simple - the young twins whose parents are the big cat tamers run a small sideshow doing the same as their parents but with kittens. I thought that was a wonderful detail, and I'd love to see a film of The Night Circus just for that.
If The Night Circus is magical realism, then it turns out I do like it - but perhaps that shouldn't surprise me given how much I enjoy supernatural novels set in the real world. It may have taken a while to get going, but once it did I was hooked.
I loved this book. It's wonderfully written (or rather well written, and very skillfully edited), and is entirely absorbing. It should really only be attempted when you have a couple of free days, as once you get into it (and it may take you a few chapters), you will be entirely anti-social and unable to put it down. It is probably best described as fantastic realism, in that there are fantasy elements, but it all takes place in the 'real' world and amongst 'real' people, rather than in a fantasy world, so if you are not a fantasy fan, don't let it put you off. The real strength of the book is in the description - you can imagine you are there, in the circus, and the love scenes will quite literally take your breath away. It's the rarest kind of book - the kind you miss when you've finished it and the kind of book you want to re-read immediately. It does have an irregular structure; although all the events unfold in the order you need to know about them, they are not chronological, so pay attention to the dates at the start of the chapters. It's also not ideal to read on the kindle, as there is a fair amount of flicking back to check up on dates and places. AN excellent first book, and I look forward to her next work.
According to many people, it is either a hit or miss. You either adore every line, every word, or you find it too fluffy and plot-less That is what I've found reading the reviews prior to starting the book.
For me, it was a direct hit. The story, the Circus, the game, the love, I adored every piece. It was sensually stimulating and almost personal, the way it would describe the Circus as if it was your first experience.
After finishing the book, I experienced exactly what was said at the ending, whether reality or the Circus was a dream. As I type this, I still feel like I am at the Circus, hearing Marco's footsteps in the Labyrinth or inhaling Celia's perfume. It could be my desire to be at the Circus, or my shameful love for imagery, but I am there. I want the twinkling lights, the chocolate mice, the performers, I want it all.
The author has done an incredible job with this novel, having done exactly what the man in grey has said while speaking to Widget.
"You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift."
Well done, Erin Morgenstern. Bravo.
Conceived and written - in its embryonic form at least - during NaNoWriMo (or National Novel-Writing Month, to the uninitiated), the Night Circus is a novel that probably should have been brilliant. The ideas behind the story are clever, the characters promising and the tone wonderfully mysterious and seductive ... but it never quite comes together.
Adorned with a quote from Audrey Niffenegger, the novel does bear comparison with The Time Traveller's Wife - the star-crossed lovers, the slightly magical twists that cleave the book's world from ours, the faintly epic span (can an epic be faint?) Unfortunately the concept doesn't match up with the storytelling. Celia and Marco are both inextricably bound to the titular circus, which springs up without warning and is comprised of rings of tents full of curiousities and wonders.
The circus opens from midnight to dawn, and is followed around the country by a band of devoted fans called reveurs, or dreamers. Celia and Marco are central to the operation of the circus, and to a larger, darker purpose - but are largely unaware of their full, true destinies, and instead play out their own, intimate love story.
The atmosphere created is beguiling .. almost. You feel like something's always just about to happen, that you're always just about to find out how good the story is, and how much you like it. It never happens, though. It's all somehow unsatisfying. You're constantly told how magical and ethereal the circus is, but you never quite believe it ... there's heaps of mystery here, but it's never resolved and it just ends up feeling like the story's being vague because it doesn't know any of the answers. It's smoke and mirrors with nothing behind it.
It's not a bad book, though - it keeps you engaged, and at least has you curious. But it's not quite as effective as it could, or should be.
THE CIRCUS ARRIVES WITHOUT WARNING
NO ANNOUNCEMENTS PRECEDE IT...
IT IS SIMPLY THERE, WHEN YESTERDAY IT WAS NOT
The Night Circus is the debut fantasy novel of Erin Morgenstern. Released in 2011 to much critical acclaim The Night Circus rapidly shot onto the Best Seller lists in the US and UK. The question is does it live up to all the hype?
From the first page it becomes clear that The Night Circus is one of the few novels that deserves it's stellar reviews. Morgernstern artfully draws you into the world of The Night Circus where you encounter the aptly named "Le Cirque des Reves" and so begins an enchanting journey through "The Circus of Dreams".
What follows is an enthralling novel that completely enmeshes the reader into the story. making you feel as though all you have to do is reach out and you will find The Night Circus to be your reality.
Flowing beautifully from start to finish you will keep turning each page to discover what new marvel awaits. The only downside is that once The Night Circus ends and you awaken, you shall be itching to join the circus that Morgensterns imagination has created.
Overall I would say The Night Circus manages to exceed it's hype. Eliciting powerful responses from the reader and at times making you feel like a child again where there is a whole wondrous world that awaits your exploration.
It definitely deserves it's place on your bookshelf.
'The Night Circus' is the debut novel of Erin Morgenstern, released in 2011. I bought this book on Amazon after reading a Dooyoo review by someone who loved the book and since it seemed right up my street. That, plus its book cover is so aesthetically pleasing that I had just had to buy it hold it in my hands!
In 1886, Le Cirque des Rêves - The Circus of Dreams - magically opens. This is no ordinary circus; there is no promotion, but just appears one day out of nowhere without fanfare. It only opens in the evening and closes just before dawn. It has all the typical performers and then some: acrobats and fortune-tellers, but also tents of ice and various elements, with a huge bonfire in the center. Its draws many crowds and even dedicated fans as it tours the world each year.
But at the heart of the circus is the deadly contest between two mysterious men's prodigies. Celia is the circus's illusionist and daughter of the famous magician Prospero. Marco is a sorcerer's apprentice and working more behind the scenes setting up more tents with his powers. Yet in this contest of magic and power beyond their control, can the two of them dare to be in love and survive their game?
The first thing I need to comment on is the hardcover book design. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but since this is an excellent book anyway I can let this slide! It's a completely black and white colour scheme with the background being dark as night and the people on the cover and the lettering contrasting it in white. It fits the book perfectly and overall is very appealing and one that will certainly stand out on your shelf.
The actual story is one that won't appeal to people who like a straightforward read. There are a lot of fantasy elements and an air of mystery with lots of events not always fully explained, but for me it fits with the themes discussed in the poem. Morgenstern makes the circus so appealing to the senses it easily came to life to me as much as to the actual spectators within the novel. It helps that the novel is structured so that we cut between the actual story and the presentation of different parts in the Cirque du Reves in a second-person narrative, which I felt was a good idea because as the reader experiences the circus first-hand, and so I learnt more about the mystery of the circus away from other characters' point of view, plus it gives us a break from some of the sudden twists or cliffhangers in the plot that might have happened immediately before.
Most of the characters are very well-written, perhaps moreso the supporting cast than the two leads. Illusionist Celia Bowen starts as a very self-aware girl who grows into a woman who knows there's more to the circus that even most of its retainers can see. Her determination to keep the circus running clashes with the contest she has been forced against her will to take part in, despite being unaware of its aims or (initially) who her opponent. I liked her willpower and could empathize with her at her saddest and frustrating moments of the story. Marco is sympathetic at first his mysterious master makes me grow up isolated and learning his skills with no company. Although Celia's opponent, he doesn't work directly in the circus but creating new tents with his powers and working under the circus manager. However I found it hard to really connect with his character even though he faces the same turmoil as Celia, plus he seemed to have a less developed personality than her as well, perhaps because he was almost too perfect an opponent and had fewer emotional attachments to other characters in the story.
The rest of the colourful cast include Celia's father Prospero (aka Hector Bowen) and Marco's apprentice "Mr. A. H -" (aka "Alexander"), the mysterious masters whom keep many secrets from their apprentices, with the author making them distant from emotions and difficult to like. There are the twins Poppet and Widget Murray, the children of two performers whose life is covering during the circus's run. They were my favourite characters because despite being children for most of the novel they are wise beyond their years and have their own special powers which serve great importance towards the end of the novel. Also there are the various people involved with the running of the circus with vibrant personalities, and as the conflict behind the scenes spiral out of control and some surprising pasts are revealed, I felt more sympathy these people than even the main characters sometimes, some of whom don't have a happy ending. There is a B-plot with a young boy (later man) named Bailey who serves as a normal spectator who loves the circus, but later he too becomes embroiled in the main plot, particularly with the aforementioned Murray twins, serving a larger purpose than what I was initially expecting. Bailey is another empathetic character, as a young man who soon has to step up and face reality at home but is fascinated by The Circus of Dreams and its performers.
I was completely hooked with this novel, especially in the latter half when it seems everything is turned upside down by various events. By the end I really felt for all the characters and the actual fate of the circus itself, and the author wraps things up nicely while still leaving some points for me to ponder on after finishing the book.
'The Night Circus' is an incredible read which I really didn't want to end. From the fantasy elements, the great characterization, compelling plot by the author's appeal to the senses in her descriptions of the circus, it is a truly fascinating book. I keep flicking back through the pages just to read through my favourite scenes again since it was that satisfying. Hopefully the success of this book will lead to Erin Morgenstern writing more novels just like this one, and I will certainly be following her in the future!
'The Night Circus' is available as of this review for £8.58 (hardback)/£3.86 (paperback) from Amazon.
(Review also on Ciao under the name Anti_W)
LENGTH: 528 pages
PRICE: £7.99 RRP (£4.31 on Amazon).
OVERVIEW: When two magicians decide to pit two apprentices against each other in the art of magic, they set in motion a chain of events that will reverberate through the ages. It is a game designed to take years to complete - beginning when Celia Bowen is just 6 and Marco is a young boy. In time, Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams) becomes the venue for this 'competition' and those who make up the circus are drawn into Celia and Marco's world of magic and illusion. And, of course, along the way, Marco and Celia fall in love - but will their devotion be able to survive a game where there can only be one winner?
MY OPINION: The Night Circus is a beautiful book, full of vivid imagery and wonderful descriptions. Some have said that the pace is slow. I didn't find this to be the case - the novel moves forward at a good clip, with the third-person narration switching between Marco, Celia and another character, Bailey (a boy who is introduced to the circus as a child and who later becomes pivotal to its survival). Then there's a host of secondary characters - the flame-haired twins, Poppet and Widget, born on the night the circus opens, Chandresh, the circus proprietor, Friedrick Thiessen one of the 'reveurs' who follows the circus wherever it goes, along with many others.
However, although the novel wasn't exactly slow paced, nothing much ended up happening. There was a promise of much more. I enjoyed my time there, I loved the descriptiveness of the circus with its many fantastical tents, created by Celia and Marco. At the end of the day though, I was left feeling that there was even more potential that could have been drawn from the plot. If I were being very critical of this novel, I'd say it's a case of style over substance. Yet I thoroughly enjoyed it as a read. It was, I suppose, a little like visiting the circus for a few days. Sadly, unlike the reveurs, it won't linger or play on my mind for very long. I've finished it and that's that. I can't say that I miss any of the characters or the world of the circus. The magic, while ever-present, wasn't hugely fantastical - perhaps because it wasn't taking place within the 'real world' but within a circus where the unexpected is expected. Admittedly, the aim of Celia and Marco's illusions is to make people think they are mere tricks - and there were lovely passages, describing tents permanently bathed in snow and ice, or ones where 'stories' were bottled so that by uncorking them, you would smell a summer's orchard and imagine yourself there. Lovely stuff - I would just have preferred a denouement with more oomph. That said, it was a very enjoyable read.
CONCLUSION: If you're after a genteel, descriptive read that transports you out of the everyday ho-hum of the world around you, this is a lovely book. However, if you're looking for a gripping, edge-of-your-seat plot, this book won't provide it. The journey, though, is beautiful and the writing itself is magical.
Having read some good things about this book I decided to put it in front of a few I have ready to read and managed to get through it in two days, not a bad feat when it's 387 pages in Hardback. Mine was a library copy but will I be buying the paperback to read again?
***The Circus comes to town***
Ever since I read a Ray Bradbury story about a fairground, I've found both fairgrounds and circuses a little sinister. The night circus obviously has the same effect as it appears one day without any fanfare, just sets itself down in a field and announces over the entrance that it will open at Nightfall and close at Dawn. Fabulous in appearance with a striking Monotone design, the circus attracts much attention on its debut night in the mid 1880's. An exact date is hard to pin down since the book follows it's own timeline with accounts of various attractions interspersed between the stories of how the circus came into being.
The circus is a series of circles that twist and turn into other tents by way of a covered pathway enclosed by a continuous fence. Rather than a main attraction there is always something happening in any of the many tents formed of fire, ice, dreams and desires. It is magic in motion and many hands have brought it into being though it is kept going by a most curious effect-pure magic.
A bargain was struck and a pact made some years previously by a Magician and a Sorcerer, the one putting forward his only child, Celia against the Scorer's apprentice, Marco in a contest to see who will be the stronger of the two. Many minds were manipulated and fortunes spent and made bringing the circus into being as the game board for the contestants to play on. Whether they choose to or not, their lives and the lives of all the many acrobats, jugglers, conjurers, fortune tellers and even some of the backers depends on the contest carrying on in a state of perpetual motion. But the contestants fall in love and love changes many things, including the fairness of being apart for all of their lives.
***Les Rêveurs (The Dreamers)***
The circus is called Le Cirque de Rêves and its many followers call themselves the dreamers. The circus is able to travel by train from city to country and from one continent to the next. Over the years its followers become a part of the great event although their journeys are more mundane than the circus, which appears to just fold up and vanish, re-appearing at the next destination. Something rather strange happens to the people who formed or aided the design of the circus; they don't age but carry on, though that can cause problems. When an accident occurs bringing the death of the clockmaker, a dear friend of Celia, it becomes plain that something must break the stalemate without doing too much harm, but how can this be done?
With such a sumptuous story the characters are, by definition, larger than life and are suitably exotic in most cases. Naturally the main players are Celia and Marco, the lovers who gradually realize their fate is more than a game. Marco was taken from an orphanage at an early age and taught by the creepy Alexander- a man who is older than time. Celia is the unwanted daughter of the enchanter Hector Bowen who has played this game before. That she retains loyalty to her father keeps her human and she is beautiful of form and soul. Though Marco starts a little arrogant, he soon shows his true colors and takes on the role of protector with zeal.
Many people flit in and out of the story as it meanders back and forth through time, the purpose of this eventually shows a reason, but is disconcerting at first. The reader entering the story does so as a dreamer as well; one cannot remain unaffected by such magical penmanship. Here we find villains to boo at, lovers to coo at and plenty of fun with the twins Widget and Poppet, along with their feline friends.
Amongst the human followers are the clockmaker, Fredrick Thiessen, the architect Ethan Barris, the twin Burgess sisters and Tante Padva along with Chandresh Christophe Lefevre who runs the circus and then there's the twin's friend Bailey, who is possibly more important than he seems. But this is the circus and time is short so let's leave them to their enchantments and visit awhile the silent breathing statues, the contortionist who knows more than she lets on and maybe have our tarot cards read by Isobel, the raven-haired beauty who first seduced Marco. We have until dawn before the circus closes for another night.
As much as I wanted to be a true dreamer, I think maybe I expected too much of the performers. The story is excellent and follows each twist of the circus with magic aplenty. The players are superb, they sparkle with enchantment and the dialogue is rich with witticism, so why is it not a perfect score? Dare I say I found the lovers a little immature and wooden at times without offending fellow dreamers? That surely the harshness of the gamblers and the cost of the stakes were overlooked for so long? That the signs were there for the open-eyed to see and the performers are adept at seeing clearly.
Still, the trapping of the book is a delight with each page edged in black to follow the monotone theme of the circus. The figures adorning the front are white on black with many flourishes and furbelows to dazzle the eye. A touch of whimsical red ribbon shows that dreamers are invited within these pages and we really hope they will stay and explore at some length and at a fair price, for entry must be charged even to fellow rêveurs. It is to be noted that the great repository of dreams, Amazon, are charging just a pittance at £7.79 or there is a different way of perusing the pathways called Kindle at just £7.01.
I just wish that the box of delights offered had not been a little sticky in parts and the elegance of the period had been described in much more detail for travelers by word need more than pencil sketches to fire the imagination. I am impressed by the scope of the imagination but a trifle under whelmed by its application. Therefore a lamentable four stars from this reviewer.
Thank you for reading.
This review may appear on other sites.
I bought this because I joined a local book club, and this was the first book on the list, so here are my thoughts (and I am sorry if I give the book away a bit, but hopefully you have already read it and want to see what others think?)
- Enchanting and mysterious - not always sure you are being told the whole story - some paragraphs left you hanging a bit, leading you to assume what happened, and wondering whether you are right - I liked this, it added to the mystery!
- You really had to keep an eye on the dates at the beginning of each chapter, they became very significant near the end
- Author set the scene very well - it was easy to visualise the setting (the circus)
- It was told in the third person - which I think suited the story well, it is a voyeuristic view, which seemed appropriate for a circus
- I was not quite sure who "you" was in the one page chapters - not sure this really added much to the story
- Reminded me a bit of the Harry Potter series
- Scenes between Marco and Celia were very intense, well-written and showed the passion between them very well
- It was not revealed at the beginning of the book what would happen to the loser of the challenge, but I guessed it very early on, perhaps the author could have concealed this better
- It was not totally clear to me what the challenge was - was it that each player was to keep the circus going and to constantly add new attractions to try and trump the other?
- What was the real significance of the book with the names in it? I think the author could have made more of this
- I liked the change in attitude of Chandresh to the game when he finally realised how much Marco and Celia loved each other, it was very touching
- I would have picked up this book myself in a shop as it has an interesting cover
- I did like the ending - "you never know which side of the fence is a dream" - so was the whole book a dream?
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!
"Opens at Nightfall; Closes at Dawn."
The mysterious 'Le Cirque des Rêves' is like no other. No-one knows where it comes from and no-one knows where it will go next. It just arrives suddenly, opening up it's wonders from dusk until dawn. At the heart of this magnificent circus, and unbeknownst to those who visit is a duel between two powerful magicians, who each pit one of their students against each other beneath the backdrop of the beautiful big top. Celia and Marco, forced into a battle to the end, find themselves falling in ill fated love. But it's not only their hearts caught up in the wonder of The Night Circus, and the repercutions will reach far and wide to anyone who has visited and fell in love with The Circus Of Dreams.
Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus, comes with some pretty huge claims. Promising to be the publishing sensation of the year and recommended by the likes of Audrey Niffenegger it has a lot to live up to. Personally, having now read the book, I think the hype is more than justified. The Night Circus now sits firmly on my favourite books ever shelf and is one I know I will want to read again and again.
The Night Circus tells the story of two magicians with different schools of thought on the learning of magic. One believes it's innate, only those born magical can be truly great while the other believes it can be learned with the right training. One uses cruel and harsh techniques to get the best from their student and focuses mainly on the practical while the other adopts an isolating and studious regime. Each sure that theirs is the best way; they pit students against each other in a battle to the end.
If you're expecting an action packed book full of magic and action you'll only be half right. This book is certainly magical; from the very first page it exudes magic and Morgenstern's exquisite writing instantly enchanted me. I felt I'd been sucked in to this surreal, dreamlike world and enjoyed every single moment of it. This book isn't fast paced at all, it's a slow, floating journey and I savoured it, wanting to make it last as long as I possibly could. There's no action packed duels either, the magic is subtle yet extraordinarily grand and beautiful.
The book is told by several different viewpoints spanning several decades. What's fascinating is that these viewpoints don't run linear to each other, so we flit backwards and forwards between years- yet I was never confused at all. This approach made the book all the more magical and you could sense you were heading to a climatic meeting point in time.
I loved the different characters within the book, especially Celia and Marco themselves, however it's the actual circus that takes the lead role in this book. The depth of Erin Morgenstern's imagination is remarkable and she describes it in such rich and vivid detail. I could smell the caramel apples she talked about, imagine with astounding clarity the scenes of wonder created and feel the magic and intrigue crackling through my body as I absorbed this book. It was utterly captivating throughout and each time I left I felt I was awakening from a strange and beautiful dream. There's very little dialogue in the book, but it is filled with stunning descriptive prose which makes it a visual experience unlike any other book I've read before.
I was probably half way through the book when I noticed suddenly that it's written in the present tense. Usually I hate this style, it irritates me beyond belief and I find it very distracting. It's testament to how absorbing and well written The Night Circus is that I didn't notice it sooner, and once I did wasn't bothered by it at all. If I did have one tiny criticism of this book it would be the time period it's set in. I was particularly excited to read that the book was set in Victorian times, as it's without question my most favourite period to read about and I expected the era to enhance the story. In actual fact, the time period ended up irrelevant, little reference was made to it and in fact it could have been almost anytime in the last 150 years. This was my only pang of slight disappointment or regret with this book.
It's pretty clear from the product descriptions on Amazon, blurbs from famous and noteable people and lushness of the stunning hardcover edition that the publishing team are really pushing this book. That's fine, because I honestly feel this time the book deserves the hype. It makes everything else I've read recently pale beside it and is so unique and intriguing I challenge anyone not to fall in love with it. What does annoy me is the marketing publishers often use. I've seen this book described as 'for the Twilight Generation'. Let's get something straight. This book is NOTHING like Twilight and that statement baffles me completely. It's absurd. I've also seen it compared to Harry Potter, and again wonder why the PR people do this. The only thing it has in common is magic. And even then it's so completely different to make it a very, very vague comparison at that. The Night Circus isn't even for teens or children, although it can certainly be enjoyed by anyone of age 13 up. It's an adult book, and I'm annoyed that claims like this would have adults who would find this book wonderful turning their nose up and dismissing it outright. If I'm forced to make a comparison then the book I'd probably liken it to would be Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife , not because of plot or style but because of the sheer imagination, surrealism and romance within the pages and the way I felt I wanted to devour every page again and again when I finished both books.
The Night Circus is one of the most perfect books I've ever read and I was completely blown away by it. If you don't like magic realism at all and find it difficult to suspend any belief then this probably isn't the book for you. This is a book not to question, but to let yourself be carried away on a magical, surreal journey. It's stunning, romantic, magical and beautifully written and a remarkable debut. I can't imagine what Erin Morgenstern will come up with next.
NB: The cover above is a US cover. The UK one (which I talk about) Can be found at Amazon.
Published September 2011 by Harvill Secker
Proof copy recieved from the Amazon Vine program.