Wednesday, 4 January 2012
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Type: Adult Fantasy
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements preceed it...it is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Le Cirque des Rêves is only open at night, is construced only in black and white and has been chosen as the setting for a contest between Celia, the enchanter's daughter and Marco, the sorcerer's apprentice. The circus delights all who wander it's circular paths stumbling into tents filled with ice or clouds or silent pools. But this is no ordinary circus and it casts a spell upon all who enter.
As soon as I finished reading I realised this would be a hard review to write. I was expecting a book set in a circus about two duelling magic workers and instead I found a book about a circus that happens to have duelling magic workers. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just unexpected. The narrative is much like a visit to the Night Circus itself - evocative, dreamlike and slightly confusing. There are multiple storylines told interchangably, all taking place in different places at different times yet interlinking meaning there is no linear timeline here.
I loved the sections that gave views into the circus, as though the reader themself was visiting. It meant certain tents and attractions like the snake charmers or hall of mirrors are able to be explored outside of the main story. The circus itself is beautifully created and feels incredibly realistic. The author has managed to create visceral descriptions of sights and smells that plunge the reader into the heart of the circus.
Celia and Marco's stories are told from when they are small children. The challenge is created in their childhood so their individual development as workers of magic is shown. I've seen this marketed as a romance which isn't the first thing that comes to mind when reading. There are romantic aspects but this is not a romance novel. It is the challenge that echoes throughout Celia and Marco's lives, even when they don't fully understand what the challenge is or what their roles will be.
My favourite story threads were those of the rêveurs and that of a young boy called Bailey who is obsessed with the circus. Excerpts from the writings of the lead rêveur Friedrick Thiessen are scattered throughout the book, along with a storyline from his perspective, and show the circus from an outsider's perspective which creates a delightful contrast from Celia's insider view. Bailey is probably my favourite character of the whole book. He becomes enchanted with the circus at a young age and finds himself drawn into it's story.
All in all this is an enchanting read that I recommend to anyone looking for a touch of magic.