Reviewed by Ambrea
“The circus arrives without warning.”
The Night Circus, known by its followers as Le Cirque des Rêves, slips into town without notice. No one knows when or where it will appear, and no one knows how long it shall stay; rather, it is known only to open its gates from dusk until dawn, closing quickly at the first rays of sunlight. For visitors, the Night Circus resembles a dream with its amazing performances, its astonishing feats of magic, and its fantastical tents. For others, like Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, the Night Circus holds grave and perilous secrets—and, more importantly, the key to their survival.
Trained expressly for the purpose of pitting their talents against one another, Celia and Marco use the Night Circus as a battleground. And caught in the middle of their dangerous competition are the lives of patron and performer alike, such as young Bailey, who falls in love with the circus, and Poppet and Widget, twins who have the unique opportunity of finding their entire lives wrapped up in the striped tents of Le Cirque des Rêves.
When I cracked open The Night Circus, I was immediately hooked. Erin Morgenstern’s novel is addictive, like her circus creations, and equally fantastic. Her novel has a level of visual precision and creative acuity that is, in a word, extraordinary. The Night Circus is rich with detail, crafted with uncanny precision and populated with beautiful scenery, breath-taking adventures, and endearing characters.
As the stories of Celia and Marco—and, subsequently, Bailey, Poppet and Widget—unfold, it’s fascinating to see how Le Cirque des Rêves adapts and changes to fit them. I especially loved the idea of the circus being a battleground, a test to see which magician is strongest: Celia with her raw, untamable talent, or Marco with his clever enchantments and powerful spell-binding.
I loved the sense of adventure and romance, the danger and the daring and the drama. In general, I loved the entire concept of the circus. It has a fascinating genesis and, honestly, it’s beautifully portrayed with its black-and-white striped tents, its magical characters and creations that seemed to be pulled directly from a dream. I couldn’t help but be drawn into their world.
Once I started, I devoured The Night Circus. On the one hand, I wanted to find out when and where all the puzzle pieces would fall into place; on the other hand, I also wanted to know what would happen to Marco and Celia. Since one or both magicians can fail the competition, I was justifiably worried for Celia and Marco. I mean, I’d learned to love them both over the course of the book: what would happen to them? Would they die? Would Celia survive—or would Marco?
I won't say anything to avoid giving away the conclusion, but I will say that I was left with a warring sense of satisfaction and displeasure when I finished Morgenstern’s novel. Equal parts romantic and tragic, The Night Circus left me with a sense of fulfillment—and a lingering desire that things had turned out differently for the magical duo.