I’m the wrong person to be reviewing Erin Morgenstern’s debut novel ‘The Night Circus’ because I loved it so much that I have lost the ability to be critical about it. So, this is basically going to be me raving and gushing about just how stunning the book is.
The story is spectacular, the writing flawless, and each of the characters so brilliantly crafted that, though there’s so much going on, you feel like you know them intimately.
The Night Circus is about a circus that appears suddenly and disappears just as suddenly in different parts of the world—New York, Boston, London, and so on—and operates only during the nighttime. Here, unknown to visitors, two gifted illusionists Marco and Celia are pitted against each other in an intricate, lifelong game they don’t really understand but for which they were being trained since grade school.
Hector and Alexander are great conjurers in their own rights, and each claims to be superior to the other. Hector challenges Alexander believing that his six-year-old daughter, Celia, can beat anyone and Alexander, in turn, finds the perfect opponent in Marco. The circus, Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams), is their venue.
The twist: Marco and Celia fall in love and this changes the entire game.
The Night Circus is intensely visual. Each scene comes alive before your eyes. Morgenstern has created a unique world where the minutest of details are carefully planned and nothing feels out of place—even in a maze full of tents, each with its own world inside, which is fascinating to say the least.
One tent is a greenhouse made of ice filled with “the scent of rose and ice and sugar”, another has a reflecting pool full of tears that store memories, and one houses “fearsome beasts and strange creatures”. The circus also has a fire-eater, just like a regular circus. But this one sculpts flames with her bare hands. The fortuneteller uses a handful of stars instead of a crystal ball to predict the future. It’s a world like no other.
There is also a horde of intriguing characters alongside the two main protagonists. There’s Herr Friedrick Thiessen, the clockmaker and chief circus follower, Tsukiko the contortionist, Poppet and Widget, the red-haired twins born on the circus’s opening night, and Bailey, who is just a boy when he breaks into the circus to complete a dare. All have stories of their own which, even if they aren’t essential to the plotline, helps the book come together beautifully.
Unlike most books, there is neither too much dialogue nor excess descriptions in The Night Circus. Everything about it feels just right.
A lot of people pine to visit Hogwarts, the fictional school of witchcraft and wizardry in the Harry Potter series. They want to experience it firsthand. I never understood the feeling till I read The Night Circus. I wish The Circus of Dreams were an actual place.
The Night Circus is the perfect book to read if you want an escape. With its lyrical narrative and highly imaginative plotline, it transports you to a world of magic and mystery where anything is possible and love does, indeed, conquer all.