Book Review – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Cirucs feels like a road trip. You set out heading for a destination and end up enjoying the journey and detours much more than the average hotel at the end. I make this analogy because in many ways this story never really got going, rather it was a book of beautiful rich descriptions versus action or plot.
Plot in a Nutshell
The Night Circus is a multi decade story following two young magicians bonded by their tutors to fight each other in a fierce competition which is set predominantly against the backdrop of a magical circus which appears and disappears with little warning.
In the Night Circus The Circus itself is the star of the show. The pages describing it were intense and rich with enough whimsy to capture my imagination. I also really liked the fact we got to see the Circus through not just the characters who were part of the Circus tour but also Bailey and the Dreamer fan club. I could have done without the odd chapters written directly to the reader. However overall it was multi layered and a visit through the meandering paths and vividly described tents and acts would definitely be one for my literary bucket list.
The characters are less easy to root for. I really enjoyed Herr Theissen, a clockmaker who initially appears as a craftsman making a detailed clock for the Circus. He reappears unexpectedly some years later and in essence starts a nineteenth century fan club. The group who create the Circus are interesting especially when set in historical context but are not well developed. I think this may have been purposely done so to create the sense of dreaming associated with the Circus. The young trio of the twins and Bailey were also interesting and reasonably well rounded. Less so the arguable main protagonists. Marco and Celia show an unquestioning commitment to the competition which is matched only by their ambivalence towards winning. When the main protagonists don’t seem to care I found it difficult to care too much either.
Now to the plot – the competition itself. Whilst this drove the timeline it certainly was not an action heavy story. Anyone expecting magical duals or Goblet of Fire type shenanigans is likely to be sorely disappointed. Rather we get a sense of a passing of time and a hopelessness about the rules and what constitutes victory. Just as the pace starts to pick up a notch with some changes precipitating action the story dwindles to almost nothing.
So the end destination is something of a damp squib. The journey though was beautiful.
Buy The Night Circus