The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern
Publication Date: 13 September 2011
Anchor, Paperback, 502 pages
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
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 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.
This is one of the most difficult books to rate. I took a really, really long time to finish it, with me picking up the book multiple times but eventually abandoning it in a corner on my desk. The book was really slow, with barely any action to keep the reader going. At one point, I was halfway through the book when I just dropped it for a few months before picking it up again recently. Yet, it was one of the best books I’ve read – I would even call it a work of art.
Allow me to justify the 4-star rating for a book that had bad pacing and a somewhat boring plot. To me, those were small problems. Setting the plot and pacing aside, The Night Circus is honestly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Erin’s writing was lyrical and elegant, immersing me entirely in the magical world of Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams. Her descriptions were so vivid even though it was written in simple language, and I swear I could taste and smell and feel everything from the circus. I was left with such a deep sense of enchantment after finishing the book that I felt like I was waltzing on clouds among an infinite number of stars (ok, that was a poor attempt at trying to convey the magic within the story but you get the point.)
I think the best bits in the book had to do with the adventures the characters had when they explored each tent in the circus – you’d think these tents are simple, striped and made of canvas, but what’s on the inside pushes the boundaries of your imagination. Erin did a splendid job detailing the circus, describing the entire picture right down to the most minute of things. I actually want Le Cirque des Rêves to be a real thing because I know for sure that I’ll be swept away by its beauty and magic and mystery. I’ll definitely visit it every day, dressed in black and white with a splash of red like a Rêveur!
I strongly suggest that you read this book not for the plot because it isn’t exactly the most feel-sy book around, but for the unique reading experience you gain from it. It’s okay if you take a long time to read it like I did! If you ever decide to drop the book, do be sure to give it another go sometime in the future, or just read little bits of it every now and then. The feeling of enchantment that it leaves you with provides a nice little escape from reality. :)