The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern [Book Review]

The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

Book Review

The Night Circus arrives without warning, it opens at sunset and closes again at dawn. The black and white circus is fitted with fantastic, unique experiences from contortionists and fortune tellings to impossible feats of magic. But this circus is more than just a show – it is actually a stage – an arena for a tense and dangerous competition between magicians Celia and Marco.

Im going to say straight away that I really, really adored this book. I like it so much that I can barely even get my thoughts out into formed sentences. Firstly, I think the atmosphere in this book is exceptional – I really felt, while reading, that I was actually in the circus myself – even my sense of smell was tricking me into believing I could smell the scents of the circus. The language and imagery in this book is so powerful, that every sentence conjured a truly vivid image in my mind.

This book is set over the late 1800s and the early 1900s, and it follows the initiation of the challenge, the formation of the circus, and the events that take place during the challenge and its outcome. The story is not told in chronological order, and I do recommend paying close attention to the dates at the start of each chapter – I had to flick back and check a number of times while I was reading.

While reading this book, I do think you read it as an ‘outsider’, you get glimpses into the minds and emotions of the characters, but there is not huge insight or connection into one mind. Which worked just fine, I feel that I needed to be pretty clueless about certain things to keep the air of mystery going. I knew as much about the challenge as Celia and Marco did, which meant I was at their level, and found out the key plot aspects as they did, which I liked. I enjoyed the little sections of the book where I was literally pulled into the story using a second person narrative. This helped my ‘literal experience’ of the circus, as well as ensuring that I was a ‘visitor’ to the circus and the events within.

Although Celia and Marco are the main characters in this novel, I feel that it is not just their story that is being told. It is the story of the whole circus, and everyone within it and connected to it. Even down to the rêveurs (Avid followers of the circus who dress in black with one splash of red), whose lives are irreparably changed by the circus, in some cases leading people to simply follow it around wherever it goes. I particularly liked the rêveurs, I felt a little like the author was giving a nod to groups of people who have serious dedication to something they are a fan of.

This is a magical, descriptive book that left me enchanted by the time I finished it. I loved every page. Unfortunately I read a library copy of this book, and I now feel an intense need to go and purchase my own copy, as I will definitely be revising ‘The Night Circus’ again.


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