Book Review // The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is one of those books that you either love with every fibre of your being, or you really can’t stand it. I’m part of the former group. I love everything about this story and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves books that blur the lines between magic and reality.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Pub. 2011 | 406 pages | Fantasy

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads: Opens at Nightfall, Closes at Dawn.

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. Le Cirque des Rêves. The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.

While most authors tend to jump right in and start their book in the “present” day, Erin Morgenstern did something a little different here. She began her story at the very beginning, giving us a detailed history of how everything started. It was an utterly unique storytelling experience, and so much better than the info-dump of flashbacks and internal monologues that we tend to get. Actually seeing everything come together over the course of about 30 years was just such a magical way to tell this tale.

It was just fantastic that Morgenstern decided to take us through the creation of the circus, and this book definitely wasn’t anything like I expected the first time I read it. Though it flip-flops between a few different time periods, and there are multiple stories running simultaneously, I was surprised that I didn’t find myself completely lost. Though some of the stories and characters do seem kind of irrelevant at the time, Morgenstern’s whimsical writing has a way of keeping you entranced. And the way she brings all of the characters together in the end? Absolutely stunning.

Every few chapters you get an insight into what the circus is really like. Written in second person, these pages feel like pure magic. Morgenstern has such a beautiful style and she makes it so easy to imagine you’re truly in those tents, smelling the scents of smoke and caramel, seeing the striking monochromatic colour scheme, hearing the sounds of people enjoying themselves. I was completely captivated.

The Night Circus pushes the boundaries of what is believed to be possible, both within and outside of the plot. It’s easy to genuinely feel pulled into this novel, and that’s largely thanks, once again, to Erin Morgenstern’s incredible writing. The competition between Celia and Marco was definitely one of the most intriguing parts of this novel, but the rest of the characters we’re introduced to all have their own part to play as well. Reading a book that spans roughly 30 years was a completely new experience for me the first time around, and I always adore the style of story just as much during re-reads.

I’m not going to lie and say there’s a lot of logic in this book. In fact, you have to really suspend your disbelief with Erin Morgenstern’s work. If you can do that, however, and see this for what it really is – a stunning love letter to magic and mystery – I think you’ll really fall in love with this book. Seriously, it’s beautiful.


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