Thoughts on Pages #06: The Night Circus

Thursday, September 4, 2014


I actually read a book before I read this one, hence why it's been awhile since I've written a book review. I'm not going to shy away from the fact that I just didn't like it...while it had its good points (like the climax and some of the characterization), the story was convoluted, the conflict submerged two ways to Sunday in drama, and the dystopian aspects downright absurd. I wanted to love the book after seeing it had quite a few good reviews, but after reading it, I was ready for something new.

Enter The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

"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 RĂªves, 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."


Storyline

The less you know about the actual story itself - besides the blurb - the better.

But I will say that it's about a competition that reaches farther than its competitors, and, of course, a mysterious circus.

Characters

My goodness, there were so many great players in this tale about a magic circus.

There were so many characters to try to keep track of, but it really wasn't that hard to do so, what with their distinct characterization and descriptions in general (more on that in a hot second). 

I will say that the main protagonists - Celia and Marco - are brilliantly written from start to finish. The supporting cast is great, and the antagonists - few, but still present - are equally as nefarious.

Highlight for spoiler: I really think the main antagonist is time, and the competition itself - not Prospero or the Man in the Gray Suit. They were just keeping the competition alive for their own sake.

Setting

The circus is a confection of magic, wonder, mystery, and wonder twice over again, tied up in a neat black and white ribbon with a splash of scarlet.

As a reader, I felt like I was actually in the circus, wandering from tent to tent and taking in the wonders that were in store for attendants and patrons alike. Everything about the circus feels enchanting, from the individual tents, to the concessions, to the performers, to the decorations, to even the patrons themselves (who contribute the "splash of red" through their trademark - the red scarves they wear).

To answer your question, yes. I loved the setting. :)

Also, the fact that this takes place at the turn of the 20th century in London, New York, Boston, and other locations across the globe made this fantasy feel a bit more grounded, which I really like.

My Thoughts

This story is basically like a really great cake. While it's decadent, rich, and made of joy, it may be hard to finish a decent portion of it, let alone a small slice. So, with this book, the pacing and the vast descriptions may make this book a little hard to slough through. At 512 pages, it was for me. However, I'm so glad I stuck with it, because I really wanted to see how the story played out. :)

I give The Night Circus five red scarves/illusions/color-changing dresses/caramel apples out of five. Though it is rich, it's a fantastic read, and I highly, highly recommend it.


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