Book Reviews · Fiction

The Night Circus

For the past week or so, after I started reading The Night Circus, I haven’t been able to shake the Britney song that’s stuck in my head (I’m sure you know which one I’m talking about)…

All the eyes on me in the center of the ring
Just like a circus
When I crack that whip, everybody gonna trip
Just like a circus

There, it’s stuck in your head, too!  And now, without further adieu…

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The circus is coming…

Le Cirque des Rêves is a circus unlike any other.  It arrives without warning, just suddenly appearing one day where it was not the day before.  It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn, and showcases talent beyond your wildest dreams.  Hidden beneath the tents lurks a challenge unlike any other…

Celia and Marco were trained for most of childhood with one purpose in mind: to defeat the other in a competition.  Their instructors were seemingly unconcerned with the well-being of their proteges (one broke his own daughter’s wrist because he’s a sadistic sociopath trying to prove he’s the best to force her to learn to mend it herself, and the other prohibited their student from speaking and interacting with people for the majority of his life), so they grew up pretty isolated.  When Celia auditions to be the illusionist at Le Cirque des Rêves the competition officially begins.  Each take turns showcasing their talent for an unknown judge, falling in love along the way, not knowing the loser of the competition faces grave consequences.  Is there really even a victor when the winner must live with such great loss?

First of all, WHO WOULD THINK THIS “GAME” SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA, AND WHY WOULD A FATHER SIGN HIS OWN DAUGHTER UP TO PLAY?!  Seriously, how horrible of a person would you have to be to think that is acceptable?  Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

After a little research, I saw Summit Entertainment optioned the rights to *potentially* make a movie about this (nothing set in stone, but if they decide to, they’ll be the ringleaders)…and TBH I think it’d be impossible to capture how imaginative and magical this book is.  From the early descriptions of the midnight dinners (side note: I’ve decided I’m going to start midnight dinner parties…if I can figure out how to stay up past 10 p.m… you’re all invited, just bring coffee) to the intricate nature of the actual circus (that clock, though *insert heart eye emoji*).  The whole event feels ethereal, other worldly, so I fear that even with all of today’s technology and special effects, producers won’t be able to do it justice.  Although I must admit…I’d love for them to prove me wrong!

On that note, the best part of this story was by far the descriptions and imagery.  I could see Celia’s dress changing colors, I could feel the wonder of walking through the front gate into the circus, I could taste the popcorn (that could be because I’m currently eating popcorn, but I digress).  You really, truly see exactly what Erin Morgenstern is describing. Also, even though typically I dislike novels that bounce between narrators, times periods, and story lines, this time it actually worked for me.  They reminded me of tents in the circus: you enter one and grab on to part of the story,  but you have to piece together what you see in each “tent” to experience the full “circus”.

While overall I enjoyed the book (the premise is so creative and imaginative), at times it was a tad slow.  It was framed as a “fierce competition,” a duel between two magicians… but not in the way I imagined. I guess I was expecting more this:

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt II

AKA Action! Drama! Strategy! MAGIC!

and less this:

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Cake Wars

AKA let’s make pretty things and wait for some external factor to judge us.

Side note: how amazing are those cakes?!
I’m a huge Cake Wars junkie.

Anyways, like I was saying, since there wasn’t a “battle” scene, the plot kind of seemed to drag, but not quite in a “UGH, can this book just be over?” kind of way. More like, “wow, this is a very well written book, but I really wish I could find out why so-and-so is acting so shady.

“Then the circus was gone, vanished as suddenly as it had appeared, like a fleeting dream.”

I’m giving this one 4 stars.  While I adored Morgenstern’s writing style, I wish it could’ve been a little more… exciting?  Dramatic?  Just a little more, more.

 

Kaylie

2 thoughts on “The Night Circus

  1. I was a bit disappointed in this book too. I thought the imaginative plot was amazing but once I’d got used to the world Morgenstern had created I thought the story dragged. I was waiting for an epic fight to the death

    1. I truly think Morgenstern’s writing style was the main reason I enjoyed this book (which is so bizarre, because typically I can look beyond poor writing if I like the story, but not the other way around). It was almost tied too neat for my tastes.

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