The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

edenskeeper September 17, 2012 0 Book Reviews


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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 Rêves, 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 per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

The Night Circus is, simply put, a collection of images, visuals & sensory pleasures brought to life by words in the most fantastical of worlds.  Told in a confusing jumble of back and forth time hops, Morgenstern tells the story of a most tragic competition. Marco & Celia are raised sternly, without love and for one reason alone – to win a competition.  To that end Marco and Celia train relentlessly for years practicing magic, illusions, spells, and all sorts of esoteric & mystical arts. Little is know about the competition. When will it take place? Who will be the competitors? How does one win?

One thing is certain  – the venue. A magical circus that arrives like the night and leaves with the dawn. The circus travels around the world without advertising or fanfare. Meticulously decorated in white, black & silver, the color scheme permeates every aspect of the tents and their acts. And what acts! Ice gardens, wishing trees aflame in candles, cloud rooms, gravity defying acrobats and mystifying illusionists.

It isn’t long after Marco and Celia join the circus that the participants and venue are identified.  Celia and Marco have been set up to compete against each other in the most bizarre of competitions with the most tragic of outcomes. They must compete against each other, creating grander spectacles and illusions while keeping the circus running because the circus has become an extension of their own spirits and must feed off of them to survive. The winner is the one who can handle the strain the longest and there can only be one. Given these circumstances will Celia and Marco ever  have a chance to live outside the competition and embrace their love?

Morgenstern’s novel is slow and plodding. The words carefully chosen but not displaying any particular flair. Rather, it is the imagery that rules the book. Wondrous  imaginative creations described in meticulous details. Morgenstern’s imagination is like that of a painter and the novel is never more alive than when an outfit or magical piece is described.

Action is slow in this novel and the romance a retrained passion expressed by shared glances and brought to life in the amazing acts each develops in an effort to give life to emotions that can’t be uttered.  But The Night Circus is without a doubt a tragic love story wrapped in greed, vanity and mania. Many may disagree but this is certainly not an HEA in the traditional sense. Instead it is a cerebral tale of man’s quest for control and dominance of this world around him. An obsession – if you will – with being right at whatever cost.

The book left me with some incredible images but over all made me feel terribly sad and despondent.

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