Mr. Pirkl's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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's review
Sep 28, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: adult, fantasy, 2011
Read from September 28 to October 08, 2011

Excellent! I need to think about more before I review it.

Okay, I've thought about it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The story revolves around the night circus and the two main characters, Celia and Marco. Celia is the daughter of Prospero a stage illusionist whose illusions are not tricks but actual magic, though he pretends they are tricks. Marco is an orphan that 'the man in grey' selects as his apprentice and participant in the contest that Marco and Celia are forced to participate in. The rules are not explained and how you 'win' is not explained until almost the end. The contest is simply to see who is the better magician. Celia and Marco engage in this contest through the venue of the circus, of which Celia is a performer, in the same manner as her father, and Marco is a prime figure in the circus' development and continued management.

Here is a quote that I particularly liked from near the story:

"'It is important,' the main in the grey suit interrupts. 'Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and it will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift. Your sister may be able to see the future, but you yourself can shape it, boy. Do not forget that.' . . . 'There are many kinds of magic, after all.'"

I think that it is interesting that it mentions 'overlapping narrative', because the novel itself does exactly that!
There is some time traveling done by the reader. The timeline of the plot is split, almost in the middle, and the reader is brought along the two pieces of the plot in parallel. The first part traces the inception, development, opening night (upon which twins are born) and subsequent shows of the circus. It also shows the development of the contents and preparation for the contest of Celia and Marco - who have two very different methods of being trained. The reader is also shown the circus 18 years in the future, the twins that were born are grown and have become performers, the circus is a well established phenomenon, and Celia and Marco meet and fall hard for each other - despite the advice of each of their mentors to avoid becoming close to their respective "rival". The movement through time is punctuated by short vignettes (page and a half or so) written in second person, they are trips through the circus, described as if telling the reader what they are experiencing.

The writing is superb; full of rich detail, engaging dialogue, and enough lack of information to keep you guessing and wondering through the journey, with a reveal at the ending that made me flip back to the opening and say 'ohhhh'.


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Reading Progress

09/28/2011 "Mrs. Sebert recommended this to me."
10/04/2011 page 65
17.0% "I'm not that far into the book but I'm really enjoying it so far. Set in the late 1800's it deals so far with magic, the circus, and bets between magicians!"
10/05/2011 page 134
35.0% 3 comments
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