The Night Circus

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

There are so few books that offer you a completely new world within their covers. This is one of the rare ones. I waited quite awhile to read it. There was so much hype surrounding its release and though it sounded like one I would enjoy, I knew my expectations would be too high. I’m so glad I waited and gave myself time to just enjoy it.

The story revolves around a traveling circus, Le Cirque des Reves, and Celia and Marco, two talented magicians pitted against one another in an unavoidable challenge.

We first meet Celia when she is only 6-years-old and she’s delivered into the care of her father, Hector. It’s 1873 and he is an enchanter who performs under the well-know stage name, Prospero. Hector’s acquaintance Alexander meets Celia and the two men decide to once again engage in a long-standing game, the details of which are vague to the reader at first. Alexander brings a 9-year-old orphaned boy named Marco into the mix and we slowly watch as the pieces are put into motion.

Morgenstern gives the reader plenty of time to get to know her main characters before expanding the scene. She grows the cast slowly instead of overwhelming the reader. We’re introduced to Chandresh, who holds infamous midnight dinners for elite groups, and his entourage of eccentrics. Then there are the red-headed twins, Poppet and Widget, born at the circus on opening night and the mysterious contortionist, Tsukiko.

I love that the author gave us the opportunity to view the circus from both the inside, from the perspective of the performers and creators, and the outside through the characters of Herr Thiessen and Bailey. It provides a complete picture of the enchanting world.

The book is absolutely enchanting. When I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I started wearing my own crimson scarf with my coat each day without even thinking about it, subconsciously wanting another tie to the book when I wasn’t reading it. The whole thing was so beautiful I clutched the book to my chest when I finished it, unable to stop thinking about the story.

BOTTOM LINE: You can count me in as an official Rêveurs. If the circus was real I’d be there in a heartbeat. The story was enthralling, the setting incredible and I know I’ll be returning to this one again in the future!

“Most maidens are perfectly capable of rescuing themselves in my experience, at least the ones worth something, in any case.”

“The finest pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”

“I relay it through printed words on crumpled newsprint, words that they can read again and again, returning to the circus whenever they wish, regardless of time of day or physical location. Transporting them at will.”

“You believe you could not live with the pain. Such pain is not lived with. It is only endured.”

Image from here. 


Amanda said...

Oh this makes me so happy! I adored this book so much. I listened to the audio this year and was so worried that I just wouldn't be as captivated, but I was, if not more so! It always makes me so happy to see someone else read it and fall in love!

Jeanne said...

I don't know how someone couldn't fall in love with this book. Once you've read it, you're happy that you've joined in, no matter how resistant you were to liking something that everyone else likes.

Unknown said...

This book is enchanting and beautiful! There are few books that I re-read, but this one will definitely be one of them.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

This is one book that I did expect to enjoy but I did. Glad u liked it as well.

Care said...

I'm smiling right now. Glad to have you in the club. (I just had to search for a red scarf when our club discussed the book and yet no one else 'got' that I was appropriately dressed!)

Kimberlee said...

The imagery this author creates is amazing. I loved this book as well and am glad that you loved it as well. Can't wait to see the movie and I'm hoping she writes another novel soon!


Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I'm very much looking forward to seeing the upcoming adaptation of this one. It has amazing potential. Did you have a favorite room? Mine was the ones with the thousand bottles.

Amy said...

I have read such mixed reviews on this book. Every time I read a good review, I think, Okay I must read it! But then the bad ones dissuade me. But your review really makes me want to read it!

Nikki Steele said...

I'm so glad that you loved the book. I agree that those outside characters really make the book -- while the others inside the circus were these magical beings, it was those outside characters that I really ended up identifying with. What a lovely lovely book.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amanda - Oh good! I was hoping to listen to the audio whenever I re-read it, but I was worried it might disappoint. Now I have that to look forward to!

Jeanne - I definitely loved it, but there were a lot of people who disliked it when it first came out.

Erin Flynn - Me too! I'm looking forward to re-reading this one.

Diane - Soemtimes it's even better when you think you won't like it!

Care - Ha, I would have been excited you wore a red scarf!

Kimberlee - I'm excited about the movie too, but also worried (like I always am when they make movies of a book I loved).

Alex - I loved the bottle room! I think the Wishing Tree room might have been my favorite, but the ice garden sounded amazing too.

Amy - I worried about the same thing. I read so many reviews of people who loved it and others where people were incredibly disappointed. That's why I gave myself so much time to let go of my expectations.

Nikki - Exactly, and I think that's why I loved the ending so much. So good!

Jenners said...

I thought she did an amazing job of creating the circus and its atmosphere -- from so many perspectives (as you said). I can just see you clutching the book to your chest!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - :) There aren't many books that make me do that. The Huz looked at me like I was crazy and asked very slowly, "What are you doing?"

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your review, even though I'm in the group of readers who disliked this book. I thought Marco was creepy, Celia was difficult to connect with, and the set up was contrived, like Morgenstern had imagined an interesting fictional world with no plot. The worst part was when at 54% of the way through (on my Kindle), the two main characters admit that there's no purpose behind the competition at the center of the story. The book felt pointless.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

misfortuneofknowing - That's the complaint I saw over and over again in reviews before I read it. It worked for me and I felt connected to the characters. I feel like Marco and Celia were as well-adjusted as they could be with such a horrible upbringing. I also thought it was less about the competition than about the circus that was the product of the competition.

Jillian said...

I didn't really enjoy this book, I think for the same reasons people loved it. It was TOO detailed for my taste. I felt like all I read about were the images, but not necessarily the story. Maybe that's just me though!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jillian - I can see that and I've heard other people say the same thing. It worked for me, but I could definitely understand having a different reaction.