Book Reviews

Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern



I am a quick reader. I normally read about 2 books a week. I devour novels like lions devour gazelles. Or like my best friend devours chocolate. Books sustain me and I hunger for new stories all the time.

But The Night Circus was different.

It took me just over a week to finish it.

I wanted it to last.

I wanted it to go on forever.

I was actually quite upset when it ended (even though, as a logical adult, I know all books must end).

I have never been so reluctant to reach the end of a book, and so disappointed with my reality when it did. Much like the patrons of the circus in the novel, you do not want the experience to end. The challenge I face now is trying to adequately write a review of it. For those of you who have read The Night Circus, you will know how much of a challenge this is.

The novel is essentially about Marco and Celia, two illusionists, who are trained by their respective tutors in preparation for a challenge, of which the rules, time and venue are all unknown. But then again, it could be said that this novel is also a story about an impossible love and the nature of the human soul. Or it could even just simply be about a travelling circus.

You start reading this novel not quite knowing what you’re in for, the blurb simply stating:

“The circus arrived without warning. No announcements precede it… it is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

Even though this seems vague and meaningless at first glance, in hindsight, this sums up my experience reading this book – I came across it without meaning to, I hadn’t heard anything about it, and I knew nothing about it, but now it is ingrained in me when a week ago it wasn’t there at all.

The book, at first, seems to be an incoherent collection of stories of people’s lives. However, the further into the book you go, the more intertwined these lives become, and the clearer the bigger picture becomes. You fall in love with the circus and the characters, and you end up feeling like you have lived across the years that the circus spans – you feel apart of the circus, of something bigger than yourself.

Morgenstern jumps back and forth through the years from the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. The reader is able to keep track with the dates of the events taking place, as they are conveniently stated at the start of every chapter. Her writing style is sumptuous and enthralling, and you are immediately transported into the world of Le Cirque des Rêves – The Circus of Dreams – every time you open the book.

This novel is breathtakingly beautiful. If a book were to be compared to a work of art, this would be the shining example. You want to take your time with it, to savour it and give your full attention to it. You want to appreciate every word, every detail and every moment, trying to commit each to memory so you can relive it over and over again.

The best way I can think of to even come close to giving a sufficient summary of the novel is to give you one piece of advice: Do yourself a favour and go out and buy this book and get lost within it’s pages. It is the only way to truly understand and experience this world that Morgenstern has created.

I cannot recall the last time I read a book where I lost myself in the author’s literary vision so utterly and completely. Most definitely, without question, one of my top 10 books I have read this year.

Rating: 10/10


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