The Night CircusHot
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 ones that have you slowly rushing pages because you need to finish it. When you find your eyes jumping ahead, words jumping out at you that spoil or intrigue.
That’s why I read. To be entranced.
And that’s what I got from The Night Circus. Absolutely spell bounding.
Terrific. Magical. Romantic. Engulfing. Tragic. Beautiful.
LOVED IT! Need I say more?
This is storytelling at its finest.
The plot is pretty slow, or rather, things happen but nothing grand. Unlike most fantasy fiction filled with battles and actions and so on, The Night Circus focuses on detailed descriptions (like what I tried to do but probably failed in Synopsis below), some are important clues for later events but some are not, simply for the joy of reading. The reading experience is like slowly opening a gift wrapped in many layers. Every layer is a surprise and a clue to unfold the big secret. (And you really get to know the secret in the end, trust me.)
The romance is there but not a central theme, despite the summary saying so. The relationship between Celia and Marco is pretty slow-burn, appeared only in the latter half of the book. So if you are reading this as a romance novel you might be disappointed. Nonetheless, their relationship is still sweet to read.
There are some things you probably want to know before reading. First, the story isn’t narrated in a single timeline. Every chapter is given a place and time, so you sometimes have to figure out the course of the event yourself. It could be confusing, granted, but I find it amusing, for it makes the story mysterious and real (imagine reading a historical document of some sort). Second, the narration is in both second-person (like what I did in Synopsis) and third-person, and always in present tense, which I know may bother some people. Third, there are fewer dialogues than in most fiction. So, if you don’t like lengthy descriptions you may have a hard time getting into it. If you love to read elegant, lush prose like me, though, you are on a treat.
This book is undoubtedly fantasy, but fantasy is not the main theme. The magic is there but you don’t get to learn the magic systems and how it works. Magic do exist though and you get to appreciate their beauty.
If you read the summary on GR and thought the main characters are Celia and Marco, you might be disappointed. The story isn’t about the two of them. Instead, it’s about the circus and the people in it. (So that’s why Celia and Marco are very important. They’re an essential part of the circus, but still, the story isn’t all about them.) The two of them also don’t have much of a personality arc. There is a strong personality arc, but just not the two of them. Also, sometimes you don’t get to see much of what the characters are thinking. It’s purposely left vague for you to guess.
All in all, this isn’t the perfect book, but the reading experience is refreshing in a way that few other fictions could provide. If you want to read something different for a change, The Night Circus might leave you pleasantly surprised.
*My review ends here. However, since the reading experience is too special to be put in plain text and the summary above is somewhat misleading, I try to write a synopsis in a similar style to the book, so you might get a sense of how it feels like to read it. I’m not a talented writer like Erin Morgenstern, though, so bear with me if I totally fail and just ignored it. No spoilers below.
Synopsis for The Night Circus:
The stars twinkle. The bell chimes midnight. You find yourself surrounded by the fragrance of sweet caramel and strands of black and white.
You did not realize this is what you’ve been waiting for all your life, not until this moment. Le Cirque des Rêves, a circus that only performs at night, a dream that thousands pursuit worldwide, a mystery that doesn’t plan to be unfolded, is finally in front of your eyes.
You tentatively take a step, then another, then another, into the circular path, wandering through tents after tents, wonders after wonders. As you step in the first tent, a deep voice, mystify yet comforting, says: “Once upon a time…”
It is telling you the story of the Circus.
As you visit tents after tents, gazing at spectacles you couldn’t begin to fathom, you learn how the idea of the Circus is born by an ambitious artist, Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre. How the Circus becomes the venue of a magical competition between two young talented magicians, Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair. How the Circus changes the life of a certain Bailey Alden Clarke. How destinies entwine and cross paths. How the Circus evolves with complicating sentiments: joy, devotion, hate, love.
And, of course, you learn the tragedies behind the shining surface, forgotten by most, but forever haunt the performers like burning scars.
Now you’re intrigued. The more you learn about the Circus, the more mysterious it becomes.
You ask how the story ends.
No reply comes.
A warm breeze strikes your cheek, gently urging you to look right. There stands a tent, signed “The Night Circus”, beckoning you in.
Shadows of various shapes and sizes dance inside. You see a big black raven darting through the air, and a white dove flying gracefully by its side. Cats, big and small, performing tricks too dazzling to keep up. A woman and a man, shifting in and out of focus, his hand on the small of her back, her head resting on his shoulder.
And then you notice all shadows seem to be swirling around a white table in the center, with a black leather book and a note on top.
“Turn the pages and read on…” the note reads.
When you exit the tent with an overwhelming heart, it’s already morning.
Put shortly, it’s a conundrum. A lot like the circus itself.
I don’t know what I expected going into this book, but I know I didn’t get it. Let me be clear: this is a purposely confusing book, but unlike many other confusing novels, this didn’t distract from the story. If anything, it enhanced the creepy, mystical atmosphere, and kept me reading. Morgernstern’s prose was beyond beautiful – it was seductive as her words draw you in and, even during the times where you have no idea what is happening, you don’t want to shut the book.
The characters were fascinating, yet almost two-dimensional in a sense. As there were so many characters, and the novel flitted quickly between their POVs, I couldn’t really get the best sense of each character. There were definitely a few that I could – the side characters – but the two main characters – Celia and Marco – were not as well-developed.
All in all, this was an entertaining book, although it was hard to read, and, not going to lie, my patience was tested a few times.
When I finished The Night Circus, I felt like it was lacking something. Maybe more depth, maybe a more exciting plot. I don't know.
What I do know:
The romance, if it can be even considered romance, was horribly written. Celia and Marco may have been infatuated with each other's magic abilities but in no way was it anything more.
The way the book was set up made the plot so complex to understand. Halfway through I had to take a break from the book and figure out what the hell was going on. Maybe it was set up to be intriguing, but it just seemed complex and unneeded.
Other readers will love The Night Circus. And I can see why. The book had a certain magical quality that seemed to pull readers in, but I just wasn't fooled by the magic. Maybe I wasn't the book's target audience, or maybe I wasn't in the right kind of mood when I picked it up.
Either way, this book was a hit...and a miss.
Published: January 1st 2011 by Anchor
Page Count: 516 pages
Awards: Locus Award for Best First Novel (2012),Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Adult Literature (2012), ALA Alex Award (2012), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), The Reading List Genre Awards for Fantasy (2012) September (2011), The Kitschies Nominee for Golden Tentacle (Debut) (2011)
In all honesty, I don’t know how I feel about this book. at times it is exasperating and other times it was undeniably engrossing.
I don’t know if my exasperation was due to impatience or if the plot of this book was drowned in too many details but I’m sure that some parts of it felt so vividly imagined that I couldn’t put the book down for fear of breaking the spell.
The ending left me agitated. I know, of course that a nicely fitted ending is a luxury in literature and that one mustn’t make a habit of expecting or seeking out books with endings that eave nothing open for interpretation; that the uncertainty of an open ending is in itself, one of the most appealing things about literature.
Erin Morgenstern described her books as “Fairy tales in one way or another”. That is the perfect description of this story. It’s a fairy tale. A tragic tale of love and loss and sacrifice.
the book tells the story of Celia and Marco; two young manipulators: Magicians, sorcerers. whatever you want to call them who have been entered into a competition when they were only children. The competition entails that they out perform each other, magic-wise. Or so they think.
it just so happens that the arena of their competition happens to be a circus. All be it, an extraordinary circus but a normal circus none the less. only with the influence of Celia and Marco’s magic, the circus becomes a place of mystery. An entity in its own right, and very soon people begin noticing and the circus develops a following of devotees who seek out something within its enchanted grounds that they cannot put a name to.
They find themselves drawn to the magic even though they don’t believe in it. some of them even rearrange their whole lives to revolve around the circus; following it wherever it goes.
as the competition draws on, Celia and Marco finds that even though they are rivals, they are drawn to each other. The bonds that hold them together are more than magic and rivalry; they are the bonds of love.
unbeknownst to them, the competition is not one of magical talent and skill. It’s one of stamina: the rules of the game dictate that in order for there to be a winner, only one of them has remain alive in the end of the contest.
inevitably, the game takes a toll on more than the players themselves as everything around them plunges into chaos.
Celia and Marco have to try to save the lives of everyone involved in the circus as well as maintain a hold on their fragile love, but it comes with a price and the sacrifices made are not easy for either of them.
Final Thoughts: this isn’t a cheery book. I would avoid this if you are going through a sentimental phase in your life. unless of course, you like stories about star crossed lovers with unfortunate endings.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”
(~490 The Night Circus)
The Night Circus is anything like I’ve read before. It was such a dazzling journey I admit being quite speechless but I’ll try to explain myself in this review though I believe it won’t be coherent.
This book, brought to us by Erin Morgenstern, is a magical romance within a game in which Le Cirque des Rêves is the venue. We are presented to Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair and they need to prove to their mentors that one of them is stronger than the other. And what was once a competition, soon turns into demonstrations of affections through magic and illusions.
The circus isn’t a normal circus. It appears out of thin air, without warning and you never know when it’ll disappear. As soon as you approach the fence, you understand it’s not an ordinary circus with clowns and animals and tricksters. Instead, you find several tents, each one even more wonderful than the other. And despite being a circus, it lacks colour, the black and white stripes and main pallet being the only colour around you. Apart from one or two shades of red from the Rêveurs.
Morgenstern created a breathtaking book that hooks since chapter one. As soon as you enter the circus, you don’t wish to leaves it and when you stop reading it even for a minute, you barely recognise your world and know where you are. You don’t know what’s real and what’s not.
The writing was beautifully developed. There’s two distinct timelines within the book that twist together at the end. You might find it complicated to read two different moments in time, but the way Erin divided them and marked them was rather smart. At each change, she would add a small description of the circus, letting us get inside it as a visitor rather than a reader. I found those small snippets a brilliant way to caught our attention to the venue.
I will be utter honest with you, I am trying to resume something I felt so personal I believe I’m not actually making any sense at all. This book is a total excited and mystical experience it differs from person to person and you need to go through it to fully understand my statements. You need to visit the various tents, the various characters and moments in this book to understand the magnitude of what Erin Morgenstern created. It lies within your feelings rather than in your writing ’cause, for me, it’s being a difficult task for me to put it in words.
Magic works in mysterious ways and, for me, this book was a dazzling journey in which love conquers all and dreams are told to come true. With this story, I believed in the power of magic and, I can honestly admit, I’ve became a Rêveur.
“Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There’s magic in that. It’s in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that… there are many kinds of magic, after all.”
(~482 The Night Circus)
Celia Bowen is brought to her father, Prospero the Enchanter, at a very young age where her talents are discovered. He begins to teach her how to use and control these powers for a challenge his friend, Alexander, and him have set up. Alexander, or the man in the grey suit, has taken on a boy, Marco, for the upcoming challenge. They are both rigorously trained day in and day out. Although neither are really sure what they are training for, they pour themselves into their studies to please their instructors. Plans are drawn up, people are involved, and before you know it a circus is up and running. This is not just any plain old circus; no this is a circus of dreams. It goes beyond your wildest imaginations and further still. It is the chosen venue for the challenge to commence. Marco is placed in the service of Chandresh Lefevre, the proprietor of the circus, and becomes his ever faithful assistant. During one of the interviews for the circus’ illusionist, Marco discovers his opponent for the challenge and slowly plots his first move. Since he is incapable of following along with the circus, he places a spy, Isobel (a tarot reader madly in love with Marco) on the inside to keep tabs on Celia’s every movement. As the circus grows and tent after tent rises up from the dust, so does their love for one another. They feel a strong connection to each other that neither one can resist; not to mention they seem to balance one another. Little do they know they are bound to a losing game. They are faced with tragedy and deception along their journey. They make life long friends and wondrous memories as the challenge progresses. Though who will be left standing in the end? Who will win this unknown challenge? What will their choices mean for others?
Although I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I can see where this can be a challenge for others. I enjoy a book that can transport me into the story. Yet, a lot of readers may feel that the descriptiveness in the book took away from the story. I felt quite the opposite. I loved the detail the book provided. It really allowed me to picture the authors vision. I also enjoyed the different perspectives throughout the book since it gave me the opportunity to actually get a feel for each other the characters. I highly recommend this to anyone with an open mind. It really was a fascinating story. Though if you are not a reader who enjoys long drawled out details in a story, this is not a book for you to settle on.