• shelve on The StoryGraph
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.
Sara Strauss says
I loved this book! I definitely agree that this book was more about the experience and the feeling and the magic than the plot and characters. Sometimes the characters felt a little flat, but I still really enjoyed reading this.
Sara Strauss recently posted Inspired By: Into The Woods
Shannelle C. says
Everyone loves this book, and it sounds wonderful. Magic, a circus, and how do you resist that cover? And it’s so cool that the narrator is the same as for the Harry Potter series! But whoa, it’s 13 hours. That’s a long book. But it’s a good thing that it has that much detail, right?
I agree with you about the historic setting. It definitely didn’t feel like present-day but there was also nothing that was a part of the book that made it really feel like the 1800’s. But it was sooo lovely. I didn’t listen to the audiobook but even just physically reading the book was so magical and enchanting. And you’re so right about the nostalgia.
Which brings up a really interesting thought from Midnight in Paris which I just finished watching today. In it, the main character wishes to have lived during Paris in the 1920’s and he says something really interesting about how present day life is always unsatisfying and how we always look to the past, thinking that if only we lived then, our lives would be more fulfilling. So… that wasn’t really related to this book but just an interesting thing to think about. I don’t know if I’ve ever really wished to have lived in a different time period. Sure there are things I like about each era but then there are also things I don’t like. Maybe I’m just not as for all the nostalgia as the main character in Midnight in Paris, Gil, is. And by the way, if you haven’t watched the film yet, you should! It was so good!!
Annie recently posted Book Haul #2 (Where I Show You All The Books I Got From The Library!)