Review: The Night Circus

◆ The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
◆ Read July 2014
◆ English Edition
◆ 
❝ 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 RĂªves, 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 both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.
The Night Circus captured my attention from beginning to end, dragging me into the dreamlike Victorian world of magic and mystery. A black and white place where peculiar things happen, but there is no apparent need to explain them because the beauty itself is enough.

The reason the book enraptured me the way it did is mostly because of the descriptions and imagery. Erin Morgenstern has a way of describing settings, characters and situations that makes it really easy to envision it, to see all of it in your mind when you close your eyes. I could picture the black and white-themed circus opening at night, the mysterious but eerie atmosphere and the great variation of unique acts. More so, I could see the characters moving around in their Victorian up do's, entertaining the public with their talents. The entire atmosphere and portrayal of settings was consistent from beginning to end and it made the book come alive for me. Nothing could possibly be improved about Morgenstern's writing style, it's already so poetic and detailed.

The Night Circus is often criticized for the lack of explanation the author offers. This much is  is true because the reader gets no wiser as to why the challenge occurs, how the magic works, why and how things ended the way they did. Even so, this did not disappoint me in the slightest bit. The central theme throughout the book was magic, and magic works in such unexpected and strange ways that any attempts at explanations would be futile. Not knowing is part of the mystery in this case.


Unfortunately I agree with many critiques out there that there was too little plot to support the entire book. I think that, as a result, the first half of the book was extremely slow paced. The main characters barely interacted and very little actually happened. Considering that the book description talks about magic battles, I felt a little bit cheated on. The second half of the book was a lot better paced though and contained more action. I feel like the plot needed more for the number of pages The Night Circus contained, but this is my only criticism. 


Despite this (though serious) flaw, I adored the descriptions, atmosphere and setting because it is unlike anything I've read before. It was just complete and right. Though I cared more for some characters than others (Poppet & Widget, love them!) I was invested in the back stories and futures of all characters. When I finished The Night Circus, it was all I could dream about at night. If that isn't the definition of making an impression, I don't know what is. 


4 stars because:
✓ Amazing atmosphere and setting
✓ Beautifully written
✓ Mysterious, leaves things open for interpretation
✗ Lack of plot

 

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