Book Review – The Night Circus

Book Cover of Night Circus

Image Credit: Amazon.UK

As the name suggests, the story is about a circus – Le Cirque des Rêves – that opens only at night. But it is not an ordinary circus where animals play stunts and jokers humiliate themselves before the audience. It is a circus that is larger than life and every person associated with it is brilliant showcasing their unparalleled craft. While spectators revel in the extraordinary talent show and enjoy the various eats stalls, no one realizes that the circus is actually an arena for a competition.

Two great magicians create the circus to enter into a competition; however, it’s not they who actually fight, but their respective proteges Celia and Marco. The two young magicians have been trained since childhood for this fierce competition, and neither of them knows that in this game, only one can be left standing. It’s not a duel with swords, but a battle of imagination. Everything would have gone brilliantly except that the older instructors hadn’t counted on their proteges falling in love – a spiritual and magical kind of love.

In spite of their love, they remain bonded to the circus because the fate of the circus and of everyone involved with it; from the performers to the patrons hangs precariously on their game. Read the book to find out if Celia and Marco are able to outplay the game and save the circus?

Review

Let me tell you that The Night Circus is not an easy book to review.

The book catches your attention as soon as you read the excerpt –

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 amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

The author paints a larger than life image of the night circus – there is intrigue, mystery and excitement. The one of its kind black-and-white clock made to order by a German horlogier, each performer hand picked for his or her unique skill and the foods available at the stalls which can be found nowhere in the world; it actually made me long to visit such a circus. The circus neither is just a venue nor it is just a talent show, but it is like a breathing and living person in the book. The story starts and ends with the circus.

All the characters are well sketched especially Celia and Marco, Chandresh – the founder of the Circus, the horlogier who becomes an ardent fan of the circus and the twins. However, I had a feeling that some of the characters were not reasonably dealt with in the end.

The love story between Celia and Marco simmers slowly, takes years to mature and spans over decades. It might test your patience at times.

The detailed description of how the young magicians were trained for the competition is quite entertaining. Also, the description of the circus and its various components is a delight to read. And, the narration is sheer poetry.

Excerpts from the book

The ticket booth clearly visible behind the gates is closed and barred. The tents are still, save for when they ripple ever so slightly in the wind. The only movement within the circus is the clock that ticks by the passing minutes, if such a wonder of sculpture can even be called a clock. The circus looks abandoned and empty. But you think perhaps you can smell caramel wafting through the evening breeze, beneath the crisp scent of the autumn leaves. A subtle sweetness at the edges of the cold. The sun disappears completely beyond the horizon, and the remaining luminosity shifts from dusk to twilight. 

 First, there is a popping sound. It is barely audible over the wind and conversation. A soft noise like a kettle about to boil for tea. Then comes the light. All over the tents, small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. The waiting crowd quiets as it watches this display of illumination. Someone near you gasps. A small child claps his hands with glee at the sight. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.

They stand entwined but not touching, their heads tilted toward each other. Lips frozen in the moment before (or after) the kiss. Though you watch them for some time they do not move. No stirring of fingertips or eyelashes. No indication that they are even breathing. “They cannot be real,” someone nearby remarks.
Many patrons only glance at them before moving on, but the longer you watch, the more you can detect the subtlest of motions. The change in the curve of a hand as it hovers near an arm. The shifting angle of a perfectly balanced leg. Each of them always gravitating toward the other. Yet still they do not touch.

Wait till you read the description of the black-and-white custom clock. It’s a torture to read and fantasize but not be able to see it for yourself.

Verdict

Erin Morgenstern writes beautifully. She has written a book about magicians, illusions and enchantments, love and star-crossed lovers, however, I would have preferred a bit more story. Truthfully, I was disappointed with the end. For a book that started with such a bang, it lost its luster.

However, if you prefer powerful storytelling over the plot, then the Night Circus is definitely your book. Read it for its lyrical and evocative storytelling.

I am taking part in the Write Tribe Reading Challenge and I have opted to read 24 books this year (though I am hoping to read more). There are 24 prompts given, and this book adheres to one of them. Seriously, only one!!

2. A book written by a Female author

19. A book written by an author who is new to you

 

About Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Fiction Addict. Agatha Christie Fan.
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