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 Reves,” 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 per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
One Word: Enchanting
Let’s get the cliché part of this book review out of the way first: The Night Circus was absolutely enchanting! It was magical and beautifully written. This audiobooks was a treat for the senses, especially because Jim Dale narrated it and he sounds like the perfect traditional storyteller.
In fact, if you watched and loved Pushing Daisies as much as I did, you will recognize the voice because Jim Dale was the invisible narrator of that magically quirky TV series. Yes, I said “magical” again. Perhaps Jim Dale’s voice is magic. It fits. He also narrated Harry Potter. Either way, what matters is the greatness of the books matched by the narration.
Purpose in Slowness
The Night Circus is slow by design. It tells a story of two magicians’ apprentices over the course of many, many years. Those years are so long-drawn, no character involved in the Night Circus was every able to see the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of them would’ve gotten so bored, they would’ve stepped out of the book if they could just to escape the dreariness. Yet therein lay the beauty for me.
Life doesn’t make sense when we see snippets of it without knowing how they fit together. In the same way, Celia and Marco had no idea where they were headed. They spent so much time in isolation from the outside world, they were won’t to question their purpose. All they did as children was to learn all the magic they could.
Often stories focus on a short time span not exceeding a year. Things that happen have immediate repercussions. Not so in The Night Circus. Not everything was immediately evident yet the story came together. I think that is a testament to the skill Erin Morgernstern portrayed in the craft of writing.
What I loved about
Where Did the Half Star Go?
As much as I fell in love with the book, I did have one grievance against against it. Even though the years were mentioned in chapter titles as markers of time, the time period hardly factored into the story. Maybe the circus was cocooned so much in its own world that the outside world didn’t matter.
Still, the visitors would’ve been dressed in certain ways to reflect the styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Even when it came to train rides, they hardly sounded different from train rides today in the 21st century.
The historic setting could’ve brought with it more possibilities because in a way, it tends to charm readers with nostalgic feelings, which Morgentstern didn’t take advantage of. At least this makes The Night Circus a tad bit more timeless for readers of future generations.