The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was a fantasy novel suggested by my very dear friend Ridhi – known as @artlancheridhi on Instagram – who is the Queen of Fantasy (in my opinion).
She had suggested this so many times, I finally gave in and bought it while perusing the book shelves at the Borders outlet here in Muscat.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before, that Fantasy is a genre that I’ve revisited quite recently and it has quickly won me over. I thought I’d be too old for it but I sometimes feel like Alice in Wonderland and age doesn’t matter over there.
So, coming back to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, this is quite a different fantasy novel in the way that it doesn’t have the over-arching element of Good vs Evil or a lot of focus on the underdogs.
If anything this book literally takes you on a journey across various cities around the world, explores the circus and the many mysteries hidden away in each tent.
I’ve been to a few circuses as a child. Nothing huge or grand, but reading The Night Circus was a sensory as well as a memory delight for me personally.
Now you must be wondering what is the story about, and when will I stop rambling about the many emotions and metaphors that I can use to describe my experience, well I won’t leave you waiting now.
Had to ramble a bit… oops.
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
The Night Circus as the title implies is a story about the Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams) which pops up unexpectedly and unannounced in any city, during the night. It is open for all, and offers wonders and amazements to those who enter.
“Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it’s really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.”
But behind this circus is a competition. A challenge to be precise, between two young magicians who have been bound to one another and trained all throughout their childhood for the sole purpose of the circus.
Celia is the daughter of the famous magician Prospero the Enchanter, and her main talent lies in creating illusions whereas Marco is the apprentice of a man called Mr. A.H and relies on magical words to create stunning shows of color and enigmas.
“People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.”
But the Circus doesn’t consist of those two only, there are proprietors involved who each have a stake in the Circus. There are performers involved who travel with the circus and live there.
Similarly, as the circus becomes famous, a cult of admirers gather up who call themselves “Reveurs”.
“Only the ship is made of books, its sails thousands of overlapping pages, and the sea it floats upon is dark black ink.”
They identify each other through the color scarlet and literally catch the circus wherever it goes.
“Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”
Despite, the entertainment of the theatrics, Celia and Marco are in a serious competition to one up each other with no end in sight. There are not told how long the challenge will last and as the years go by, it takes a toll on everyone involved.
“There are no more battles between good and evil, no monsters to slay, no maidens in need of rescue. Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”
In the midst of the stress and pressure, the two competitors fall in love with each other, and when the devastating news of only victor coming out alive from the challenge is revealed to them, the competition suddenly becomes hollow to them.
“I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.”
Le Cirque des Reves cannot be stopped, however, and many lives may be affected if it ends. This leads Celia and Marco to take steps that forego concepts of time and space, their mentors, and ultimately the challenge itself.
“’I would have written you, myself, if I could put down in words everything I want to say to you. A sea of ink would not be enough.’
‘But you built me dreams instead.’ ”
Like I’ve said above, this book is not only magical (obviously) but the writing is so alluring, eerie and transformative, you feel transported to another realm.
“I have been surrounded by love letters you two have built each other for years, encased in tents.”
With this book you escape reality and go wherever the circus leads you, become amazed at whatever sight the story describes for you, and become enamored by the idea of love when you find Celia and Marco exploring their relationship.
“Everything I have done, every change I have made to that circus, every impossible feat and astounding sight, I have done for her.”
It’s beautiful, stunning, amazing, seductive, and timeless.
The Night Circus was written by the author during NaNoWriMo and the best way to describe it would be the vibes and ambiance it creates in the form of: Autumn, hot chocolate, popcorn, chocolate, sweater weather, and love.
But don’t be fooled by those words, the plot is a puzzle where each piece is revealed chapter by chapter, and each word, each paragraph is essential to understanding the circus and the challenge.
So, if you want a sensory overload, with your imagination working around the clock, and feel like your life is missing magic… then make a hot cup of your preferred beverage, put on some Lofi tunes and read this book.
The experience will be one of a kind.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 4.75/5.0
- Favorite quote: “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
- Reader level: Neither hard nor easy, somewhere between magical and intriguing.
- Should you read: Oh please do. It is the perfect time of the year to read it.
- Would I read it again: Writing this review has made me want to read it again for sure.
Till next time,