Jeff's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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Nov 26, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-literature
Read from October 02 to November 19, 2011

Had to go with three stars on this one. At times, I really enjoyed it. At other times, I felt like it rambled on.

Okay, so on with the review. The novel tells the story of a magical competition between two young illusionists. The competition, though, isn't what it seems as the opponents actually fight the "battle" of two much older combatants. Their venue is a magical, world-traveling circus that is only open from dusk to dawn. The game not only dictates the lives of the young competitors, but evolves in such a way that the playing field and, indeed, the players become harder and harder to define.

In short, The Night Circus is a well-told fantasy story. The seasoned reader will be able to easily tell that it is Morgenstern's debut novel. The author, however, seemingly suffered from an inability to decide which story to tell. Did she want to go with the love story? The circus itself? Or purely the magic? I have no opinion as to which it should have been, but the narrative needed something to be selected. I labored through the middle hundred pages or so because of the endless addition of new illusions, or "tents". If the story would have been the magic, so be it, but at that point, the narrative felt like a love story; hence, the magic became something that felt like a writing exercise to me.

Morgenstern flirted with the theme of "love as magic", but it is too simplistic to say that that was "the theme". There were many variations on love, with Marco and Celia as examples, but also between Ethan and the Burgess twins, Frederick and Celia, as well as the paternal-child relationships of Celia-Hector and Marco-Alexander. These were well-crafted from a back-story perspective and I would have enjoyed a little more depth with them.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read - felt very much like the film The Prestige . It was a book that I read as part of a book club in which I participate, and I can honestly say that I would NOT otherwise have picked it up. But...that is the reason for being in the book club! Ultimately, I'm glad I gave The Night Circus a go.
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