“The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”
— Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus
Hold on to your hats, my friends, The Night Circus is coming to town and it has brought its magic along with it. I started this book without the slightest clue of what I was dipping my toe into. It didn’t take me long to realize that my whole mind was submerged in a star-filled mystical world where anything is possible if you hold your arms wide open and let the enchantment embrace your mind and body. Erin Morgenstern’s novel is a visual experience that will haunt your imagination like none other books have done so yet. Its intricate attention to details stimulates your senses into believing you’re a rêveur who’s been up all night until the arrival of Le Cirque des Rêves. It holds onto your gaze like a star-filled night and bestows upon you the desire to smile, to discover, to vow your life to a circus that took form through written words. The Night Circus is the story of Celia and Marco. These two individuals who have been bound to a challenge forced upon them by their masters since a very young age, will soon go face to face as the circus serve as their venue, their battlefield. It is their ignorance of how the victor is decided that the tale shifts from a competition to a collaboration, one that will lead them into an unexpected love story set in a magical ambience.
To some extent, I’d slap the mystery genre onto this book. For a great part of the book, you are left clueless and disoriented by the dazzling arrival of a circus and all its enigmas. Warping from one character’s story to another, this book hands you all the pieces to construct the timeline of what feels like a timeless and endless phenomenon. From the initial creation of the most magical black-and-white-striped circus, to its flamboyant and majestic grand opening, to its unpredictable yet highly anticipated visits to countless towns, The Night Circus never gives you all the pieces on a silver platter. It is a story that holds you by the hand as you embrace your inner child and visit the numerous tents that Erin Morgenstern’s imagination has conjured. The different point of views lays out the different lives of different characters who have all known different pasts but are connected by the one thing that will grow into the biggest sensation and highlight in the lives of many, the circus. It’s acquainting yourself to these characters and their different purposes that you’ll later grasp the battleground and how much is at the stake in the competition that is condemned on Marco and Celia. Everything matters, and the slightest move will have the largest repercussion imaginable. The author notably succeeds in making you forget about the bigger picture in order to enjoy the little things. Forget about the cruelty of what little Marco and Celia have to, sooner or later, go through. Forget about the plans of each of their masters in displaying magic in a world that blindly accepts it as a trick of the eye and not a palpable talent that can be acquired. The Night Circus reminds you that freedom is achieved through your own desire of release, acceptance and love. The story is a test of endurance, a test of love and a test of free will. What will they fight for?
What will truly win the heart of readers in The Night Circus is its romance. For someone who does not read much, if not any, book that puts romance in its front lines, I will have to say that Erin Morgenstern created the most riveting and mesmerizing love story yet. This isn’t something that will have your eyes rolling or face getting palmed. Love in this book takes many forms. In fact, it is embodied in all its rawest and purest forms and will strike you in the most unexpected ways. I found myself deeply captivated by the electrifying chemistry between Marco and Celia. They have been destined to fight, yet found themselves treasuring one another. Every moment they were together gave me a jolt of joy and a breath of fresh air. It is the timing and the circumstances of the events that are unfolded that make every single one of their encounters such a heavy and passionate moment. What also added an air of mystery to the story is how these two characters were raised during their childhood in preparation for their big competition. While Celia is built around harsh training and hard work, Marco is grown around books and the magic behind spells and glyphs. As they grow up to become powerful magicians who work with true illusions, their attraction and passion for one another is far from being deceptive. What The Night Circus offers its readers is a forbidden love that was never supposed to happen. It is the evolution of a bond very much magical that will struggle to hold together as the mysterious rules of the competition slowly rises to the surface.
If it hasn’t occurred to you yet, The Night Circus is the most visual experience you’ll ever get. One of my favourite parts in this book is when they introduce the famous clock. The details and the mere idea of it went beyond my imagination. The way its assembled, the work put into it and the importance of it throughout the story marked me till the end. I was thoroughly impressed by the minute details and the meticulous attention that its creator had given to it. I also loved how this very creation had impacted his life in ways that only someone who’s made it with their own hands would know. That character is also the prime example of where one can find magic in a world filled with skepticism. He isn’t like the illusionists that hide their skills by making people think that there’s likely a trick to it that only the magician could know. He is a mere mortal who has shown the world that magic can come from anyone and in many shapes. However, the clock is not the only element that had me in awe. The book is filled with extracts describing unimaginable tents that are brought to life thanks to Erin Morgenstern’s fine writing. Looking for a tent with a contortionist bending her body in ways that the mind cannot comprehend? You got it. Looking for a tent hiding a vertical cloud maze and a graceful and safe descent? You got it. Looking for a tent filled with scent-captured jars that will teleport you to whole new worlds with just a sniff—no drugs, I promise? You got it. I entered The Night Circus with my eyes closed, but Erin Morgenstern had other plans for me. She grabbed me by the arm and threw through a universe that will tease all your senses and bring life to ink.
While the pacing was slow and relied strongly on your connection to the writing and all the vivid images that roared through the pages, it is the ending that sealed the deal. There’s no point in giving up on this book because of your inability to see the horizon. Erin Morgenstern knew how to wrap things up and deliver the most satisfying ending for The Night Circus. After all, as you learn about the characters and their stories, you’ll quickly understand the importance of telling a story. Nothing is left in an abyss where no one can reach in and drag out a gem worth sharing with the world. It is the importance of conveying your thoughts through words and reaching out to people that makes everything you tell such a beautiful treasure. The Night Circus does a remarkable job in showing you that every person sees everything in a different way. No one has the exact same experience nor the exact same reaction. Being able to connect with the stories told, and then the writer who tells it, are some of the most amazing realizations you’ll make. The ending does a beautiful job in conveying every little detail that were hidden throughout the book in a blooming and spectacular fashion. The Night Circus is a memorable visual surprise. There’s only one way to find out if it’s your cup of tea, but be careful. If you do end up falling in love with it, it is not something you’ll ever want to let go of.
The movie and TV rights were optioned by Summit Entertainment and has David Heyman as producer (know for being producer for the Harry Potter movies) and Jeff Clifford as screen-writer (writer of the Jane Eyre movie adaptation in 2011). However, this news dates back to 2012. One can only hope.
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★/