Kirsty's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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's review
Sep 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: botns, favourites
Read from October 02 to 07, 2011

"The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

I don't know how many times I've read this paragraph recently. It's fair to say that this book has had more than your average amount of buzz. Lots more. This amount of buzz would normally put me off reading a book because I worry that it won't live up to my expectations. For some reason though, the buzz didn't put me off this book at all; it just made me want to read it even more. So much so that I pre-ordered the hardback - which is something I never do!

The Night Circus tells the story of Celia and Marco, two magicians who are trained from a young age to ultimately take part in a challenge where there can only be one winner. The stage for this challenge is a mysterious travelling circus that only opens at night and disappears as quickly as it arrived. Alongside this story we meet Bailey who, whilst playing out with his sister and her friend, is dared to break into the Night Circus. While there though, he meets a girl with red hair, dressed all in white, who helps him to get out of the circus when he's lost. She gives him her glove to take back with him - to prove to his sister that he did break in. 15 years later, he finds that the circus is back in town and Bailey can't resist returning to see whether the girl is still there...

As I said, I'd heard a lot about this book before it was released and the plot intrigued me. I love anything magical and this is magical realism at its most creative. The circus is mysterious and intriguing and I was fascinated by all of the different aspects of it, especially by the way the performers were so magical that they had to attempt to hide this from the audience by trying to make their acts seem like manipulation and sleight of hand.

There are many characters and the plot jumps around between years - moving from 1873 to the years prior to 1902, to 1902 when we read Bailey's story, to the present day when the story is written as though you are experiencing the circus yourself. The jumping around and trying to keep track of all of the characters did cause me some problems at first and I had to keep checking which year I was in, but as I got further into the book this became much easier and I settled into it. The characters each had their own stories, although none of them delve as deep as I would normally like, and I found them fascinating, especially the relationship between Celia and Marco, which develops slowly but is still interesting.

The plot itself isn't the fastest and there are some slow parts. I didn't mind this though, as this is more character driven than plot driven. It's also very visual - the author uses a lot of description, especially in the present day chapters, but it works perfectly for this book as it really is something that you need to be able to imagine to truly appreciate it. I can see how this, coupled with the slow plot, could put some people off, but I loved it. The writing is beautiful, almost lyrical, and I wanted to savour it and so I was happy to take my time.

The plot does pick up pace towards the end and the last few chapters are brilliant. I can't say anything really for fear of spoiling it, but I will say that there were things I wasn't expecting and that I liked how the author brought all of the characters together, especially as many of the characters seem peripheral but are brought closer and closer together throughout the book as we understand how their relationships intertwine.

All in all, despite a couple of flaws, this was an awesome book and one I will definitely read again. I can understand why many won't like it, however it definitely worked for me.
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Reading Progress

10/02/2011 page 1
10/03/2011 page 176
42.0% "This book is amazing. I read 134 pages in one sitting!"
10/07/2011 page 416
100.0% "Awesome book!"
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