The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ; A Review

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This book has been on my ‘to-read’ shelf for far too long. It has been out for a good few years now and has slowly snowballed a lot of interest and reviews over that time. Though there are plenty of mixed reviews, the book had an average of 4.2 stars on Goodreads which is a very very good score so I bought it and kept a hold of it until I had chance to read it thoroughly.

In my first week of moving house, I had a little bit of spare time in the evenings so I finally got around to reading The Night Circus and thought, though I review everything I read on my goodreads page always, that this is a big enough book to discuss on my blog too. (Remember I said I would only review the books I enjoyed and stop writing negative reviews?)

General

Okay, so the book is not what it says it is. This part of the the review is NON – SPOILER by the way. I saw, in most of the unhappy reviews, that people are angry that this book is not what it says on the tin. They’re right. I picked the book up expecting a mystery novel about a curious circus. There is mystery. There is a curious circus. This is not a mystery novel about a curious circus. This book tells the tale of two protagonists, born magician Celia and trained orphan magician Marco and the challenge they were bound to that they do not fully comprehend.

Plot

Teachers, Hector Bowen and friend, the man in the grey suit, have differing opinions on the ways of teaching magic or manipulation or whatever it is you would like to call it. What begins a simple challenge against students of different schools becomes something much more serious and so Celia and Marco are pitted against one another in a challenge which they believe ends when one builds something that the other cannot top. The actual truth will be said in the spoiler review a short scroll at the end of this post…

Literary

Basically, The Night Circus novel spans the course of sixteen years. It begins excitingly, then half of the book is really quite dull— they grow up, they get educated, they begin the circus, then the book is magical, the prose is beautiful, Morgenstern uses incredible language and inspires such intense imaginary features in your mind. You begin to understand the complexity of the situation, you fall in love with characters, you become attached, you see how clever and intricate this entire book is and it is undeniably one of the best books you will ever read.

That being said, sometimes the description is more than is necessary and this tends to put quite a few people off. There were times where I skimmed over plentiful description rather than take it in and I did this as opposed to putting the book down so I am glad I got through it and heard the story since it is very clever and beautifully exhibited.

If you want something that is descriptive and you want beautiful dreams that inspire all the senses then pick up this book, it is, pun unintended, magical.

You can, as always, find my bookish things on: www.goodreads.com/hannahshappy

SPOILER VERSION OF THE REVIEW OF THE NIGHT CIRCUS

If you’re reading this review then you’ve either already read The Night Circus and are unafraid of spoilers or do not think they ruin a good novel for you. If I have not described you then click off now before you see something you don’t want to.

The Night Circus is both slow and fast-paced. I found parts to be dull and rather unnecessary and other parts to be so quick I held my breath and read as fast as I could to find out what happens next. The pace of this book is considerably slowed down by large amounts of description. I enjoyed using my imagination for this curiously monochrome yet explosively colourful world that Erin Morgenstern invented to an extent and did not enjoy being bombarded with the same details repeatedly at the same time.

The characters were wonderful. I loved Celia, I detested her father, I was unsure of the man in the grey suit but I loved the Murray twins and poor Isobel. I liked that seemingly insignificant characters still had a large part to play in things i.e. when she ripped some belongings apart and affected the circus and Poppet in tow. I wish we could have known more of Marco. We knew him as a young boy confused with his teacher and we knew him as a restrained friend of Isobel but we did not get to know him so much as the intelligent manipulative magician later on. We knew of his fiery love for Celia and little else.

I enjoyed the small insight to their relationship that the book has. I definitely think that the element of being bound added a further complexity to their challenge. I like that a previous challenge survivor was uncovered and knew to apprehend the lovers’ moves before they made them enough to get involved. The ending was incredibly clever and I adore that it involved poor Bailey who was so confused about all aspects of his life except for the fact that he loved Poppet and the circus. Though I am still not entirely certain of the details of what became of Celia, Marco and Bailey, I am so glad that the challenge did not end in a death as it was supposed to. I wonder how soon we were meant to know of the impending death. I thought the beginning hinted at it but I had forgotten the terrible truth early on before I was reminded near the end.

I enjoyed this book despite its lengthy descriptions and am proud to call myself a rêveur, a dreamer of the Circus of Dreams.

Hannah x

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