Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Vintage Books, Random House
Release Date: September 13th 2011
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.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
The Night Circus is an enchanting tale that I found hard to put down. Beautifully written with a magical setting and charming characters I was left wanting more from this story where anything is possible. When we first meet Celia she is a child dropped on her father’s doorstep before the circus is even the glimmer of a dream. Hector Bowen, Prospero the Enchanter, is a cruel man; he had no desire to parent a child but when he sees the raw talent for magic Celia has inherited from him he sees an opportunity.
Calling on his old mentor Mr A.H., the two agree on the terms of the duel. As Celia is trained by her father Marco is plucked from an orphanage and taught the old ways of magic. Celia and Marco never meet whilst their training is underway. It’s only when their dual takes centre stage at the circus that they realize how entwined their lives really are and the depth of the bond the challenge has forged between them.
Both Celia and Marco work their magic, creating fantastical circus tents to impress the guests and each other, but eventually Celia and Marco’s rivalry makes way for deeper feelings. The tents that were once shows of their power and strength become love letters for one another.
However as feelings grow between Celia and Marco their hold on the circus begins to waver and they tread on dangerous ground, edging ever closer towards destruction. We watch as the brilliant yet eccentric Chandresh becomes a shell of his former self as the circus travels the world and the battle between Celia and Marco travels with it. Violence enters the circus for the first time and the people who have been touched by its wonder and fantasy are suddenly in very real danger.
There are not enough words to fully describe how much I loved this book. As I read the story seemed to take on a life of its own, spanning several years and connecting characters that have nothing more in common than the circus. The loose plot strings you discount as irrelevant in the beginning of the story end up coming together and weaving an intricate tale of wonder and fantasy.
Celia has known since she was a child what her fate held for her when her father entered her in the game. Hector has no love for his daughter, at most he sees her as a pawn, and nothing she ever does seems to be good enough for him. Celia takes a role in the very centre of the circus, and although she doesn’t know who her opponent is she is constantly surrounded by his magic and his creations.
Marco on the other hand figures out very early on who his opponent is, he seems awed by Celia’s strength and slightly worried when he sees how powerful she is. Marco takes a role outside the circus but he is still able to influence its design as Chandresh’s assistant. His distance doesn’t weaken his power, instead he works out a way to keep an eye on the circus and its inhabitants, protecting them the best he can.
Celia and Marco are bound together as children, and at the very beginning their only relationship is that of competitors as they try to outdo one another with the circus as their battleground. However as more time passes the tents they create cease being shows of strength and start becoming shows of devotion. Eventually everything they do is for one another, and instead of working separately they collaborate, adding onto each other’s creations, taking inspiration from the other’s stories, as they fall in love with one another.
Bailey starts as a simple farm boy, watching the black and white tents from the outside. However as time passes and his life becomes more and more entwined with the circus, and he ends up playing a larger part in the story as Celia’s and Marco’s magic begins to unravel. Bailey is a dreamer, he falls in love with the circus in a way not many people do, and as a result he sees sides to the circus not many people get to experience. His wonder and awe felt a lot like mine as I read this book.
Erin Morgenstern has taken the lives of different characters and tangled their fates together within the grounds of the circus. Every character, no matter how big or small a part they play, have a purpose. From Celia and Marco who have magic and create such amazing illusions, to Bailey and the other patrons who explore the circus and savour the fantasies they find there. The Night Circus is a story that is brilliantly told, and the descriptions make it seem as if you are actually there, exploring the circus and delighting at what you see before you.
The Night Circus spans many years and it can be hard to keep up with all the different story lines in the beginning when there are so many time jumps, but as you keep reading you find yourself becoming immersed deeper and deeper in the world Erin Morgenstern has created. We see the very beginning of Le Cirque des Reves; how the idea was born and how the very best creators and entertainers were found to make it into something truly magical. We see the very first time Celia and Marco meet and how their love story develops, each of them creating more and more tents for the other. Gardens where everything is made of ice, a pool of tears where people can drop all of their grief and heartache and leave feeling lighter. Winding labyrinths, wishing trees and children’s dreams stored in jars. Every tent has something amazing hidden inside. We see Le Cirque des Reves as it travels the world, touching the lives of the people who visit; including the reader.
Have you ever read a book that was so beautifully written that it left you speechless, a book that made you want to crawl into the pages and live within the world created there forever? For me, The Night Circus is that book. No matter how many times I re-read it it never loses the wonder and magic I experienced the first time I picked it up.
What did you think of The Night Circus? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.