The night circus arrives without warning, simply appearing where it was not the day before and then disappears without a trace. Erin Morgenstern beautifully captures the magic of such a circus in this incredible fantasy novel.
This was the first fantasy novel I have read in quite a while and I am so glad I did. The novels follows the journey’s of Celia and Marco, both connected to the circus and locked in a fierce competition with each other with the circus as its venue. They have been trained since childhood for this competition but are in no way prepared for the realities of it.
Morgenstern is a magnificent writer who transports the reader to another world where the impossible becomes possible and you can’t help but wish you could be a part of it. This incredible novel is beyond imaginative and will absorb you into a world which is not merely magical but also intensely dark at points.
The harshness of the character of Prospero the Enchanter is as shocking as the character of Tsukiko is mysterious. The dark quality this brings to the novel results in a deeply intriguing story that is made up of twists and turns that are impossible to predict. This is further emphasised by the fluctuation in which characters are at the forefront of the narrative. Where we are introduced to the book through Prospero and Mr A.H- they very naturally become background characters as the book goes on, with our focus instead being on Marco and Celia, and later Widget, Poppet and Bailey. By placing Prospero and Mr A.H- in the background they remain surrounded by a dark quality, they orchestrate this situation and then sit back a watch, making sparing and infrequent appearances but very much remaining separate from it all.
Similarly, one of my favourite aspects of the book was how my interest in each of the story lines fluctuated throughout the novel as I gradually found out more about each of the characters and gained insight into the connection to the circus and the other characters. For me, this was most evident in my opinion of Bailey and the chapters focused on him. When Bailey was first introduced, I found his chapters fairly uninteresting and slightly disappointed when they interrupted other story lines I wanted to read more about. However, as the novel continues, and Bailey grows closer to Poppet and Widget , I became fair more intrigued by him and grew to enjoy his perspective on the circus as an outsider.
Another interesting thing to note about the book is Morgenstern’s choice to interweave short descriptions of you, the reader, walking through the circus with the main narrative. This is an interesting way of immersing the reader in the circus, providing information not directly relevant to the story but equally fascinating in a way that serves to more successfully create an image of the circus in your mind. It also aligns beautifully with the narrative arcs throughout the book with your journey through the circus mirroring the start, middle and conclusion of the story, with you leaving the circus as the book draws to a close.
Overall, this is a beautifully written novel and Morgenstern creates an incredible world that everyone should spend time in.