The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

by missizziemcguinness


‘Gates open at Nightfall and close at dawn’

The Night Circus is a novel about a circus that only opens at night, and during the day, it is only a couple of ‘striped tents’. At the circus, two illusionists called Marco and Celia are binded by magic and they fall in love.

I don’t know how I came across this book but I saw it in my local bookshop and decided to buy it, thinking that it would be on the same premise as Sara Gruen’s Water For Elephants and the film of the same name because of the circus. Clearly, it was not. In fact, it was entirely different and may I say, better, and the only things that the two books had in common was that they were both primarily set in a circus.  Immediately, I was swept away into a land of acrobats and a magician and all the different interlinking stories that blew me away, especially the heavily romantic relationship between Marco and Celia. I don’t remember reading something this good but it is currently my favorite book. It is imaginative and I sometimes like to press my face into the pages in the unlikely case that I will jump into the book and join the night circus (or the Le Cirque de Reves) and go back in time about one hundred and twenty or so years. It is also up to the readers interpretation into how they approach the events in the novel.

I had many predictions about this book. It was too good to be a ‘it was all just a dream’ scenario, which, to be honest, is only an interesting story if it is done well and not used as a last resort. I also hope that they never turn it into an actual released film because the novel itself stands alone and takes you on an adventure and it doesn’t need some ego filled actors to prove it, although it will eventually be interesting how the actors interpret the characters. I also think that the circus is a metaphor for escaping from everyday Victorian duties or expectations e.g one of the characters Bailey was accepted into Harvard but he was more interested in the  circus.

Anyway, I liked the characters. It was surprisingly easy to follow and doesn’t tend to go off on a tangent or stick to the cliches of a book about a circus, in fact, the circus was just the tents. I honestly couldn’t put the book down and I still imagine the lit tents  against the night sky and all the romance plot lines long after I close the book. It isn’t just all about a circus; there’s love, deceit, death, hope, betrayal and an ongoing thing that the circus was all just a game. Not a sentence went by without me thinking that it had some sort of symbolic relevance which could be pieced together at the end. The ending made me wonder what happened to the remaining characters long after the events that Morgenstern actually wrote in the book. I now know why readers get attracted to fictional characters and writers get attracted to their characters as well. I might even read this novel again soon to pick up the small pieces that I didn’t pick up the first time round.

At one point, I was so carried away with the characters and the story lines interlinking with each other carefully that I stayed up past my bedtime to read most of it, forgot where I was and ended up reading the same forty or so pages again. There isn’t a single thing that I should criticize about this book, even the ‘love’ scenes were somewhat beautifully written. Now I’m getting withdrawal symptoms from this fictional circus and the book altogether.

If you haven’t read it, I would recommend this masterpiece to you. I also cannot believe that this was Morgenstern’s debut novel because she did a very good job at it. I don’t think that she has published anything else as of yet.