Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Released: September 15th 2011
Pages: 387 (Paperback)
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazement. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.
The challenge must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
I finished this book a couple of hours ago, and I still cannot properly articulate in either words or speech how completely breathtaking this novel is. It is like nothing I have read before, or anything that I will read in the future. This novel is in a whole different league of its own, and although I have read many other unique novels, this beats them all. The Night Circus is a book not just about the circus, but about real magic, adventure, and what it truly means to love someone unconditionally.
Admittedly, the novel was slow to begin with - but not boring, which is a first that I have found. There was something that, right from the start, kept you wanting to read more - probably the subtle sense of mystery that almost surrounds the book in a constant glow. There is just something about it that keeps you hooked, throughout the fast-paced moments and the slightly slower ones. And considering that this is (I think) Morgenstern's debut novel, it just makes the whole thing even more amazing, because this amazing writing skill she has is one that most authors do not learn in a lifetime. She has captured the art of how to tell a good story perfectly, and her descriptions are so full and rich that you can practically taste and smell the circus, yourself. The descriptions are enticing.
Anyway - the overall plot was amazing, and again I don't think I can find the proper words to describe it. Now that I've finished reading, I am starting to realize all the little hints placed carefully throughout the novel. Everything that happens has a purpose, and the characters are all so combined together, with their own individual stories intermingling at least once. It is fascinating to watch unfold, and since my mum read this book before me, I kept going over to her and asking if this or that would happen. She didn't tell me though, and I think if she had it would have ruined the story - this is why I am trying my best not to leak in any spoilers, because The Night Circus is best read by yourself, and not told second-hand.
The circus itself was amazing. Mogenstern managed to capture what I have always wanted out of a circus: magic. There were no creepy clowns and crazy music in sight: it was black and white, with talented performers in an array of so many tents that you could never view them all, not even in a lifetime. However, despite it's fantasy-base, it was entirely believable, and part of me wishes and hopes that there is a circus like this somewhere in the world, although I doubt it.
Lastly, the characters. There are a lot of them, but somehow, it is not hard to remember them all. They are each so unique that you can't help but remembering them. I loved each and every one of them - even Hector and Alexander, despite it all. To me, they still feel like real people. Morgenstern created them so vividly, it is honestly gob-smacking. Not to cast around spoilers, but I loved the two competitors, and I adored their whole story line. I never knew what was going to happen, and I genuinely loved the ending. It couldn't have been more perfect.
The idea of the circus, combined with Morgenstern's amazing descriptive ability, has together created a book so magical, that I doubt anyone will ever be able to recreate such a masterpiece. This is a once-in-a-lifetime book, and although I don't think it is for everyone, if you love fantasy and love getting your teeth into books, then this is perfect for you.