Honest review of the must-read "Night Circus"
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"The circus arrives without warning."
To review and explain the magnificence of this book is a difficult task. Morgenstern weaves a dreamlike tale of a dreamlike circus in such a fantastical way that it is almost impossible to put into words what the book is about, and, more significantly, what it actually means.
Essentially, this book is a romance about two people, Marco and Celia, who are fated to compete against each other in a competition of magical possibilities. Both illusionists are pitted against each other in a competition with few explanations, obtuse roles, and abstract concepts. For this reason, it is somewhat jarring for the reader to partake in this journey. This is a book where you never 100% understand what is happening.
I enjoyed the layers to the book and the different perspectives. There are many characters in this book, but Morgenstern weaves them together in exciting ways. Part of the attraction to this book is the fact that you never quite know whose story you are really reading. Who is actually important? What is the main purpose? Who is really going to rise as the central figure? There are so many swirls and whirls in the narrative that it begins to feel like the dreamlike circus she writes about.
The circus itself essentially becomes a character in this book. This circus is very different than the one you are probably imagining, however. It is a place where magic is real and the impossible really is possible. The illusions aren't really illusions, although the cover of night makes patrons of the circus understand that reality is perhaps the biggest illusion.
The narrative voice in this book does give it a bit of a distant feel from the reader at times. I have read critiques of this book where readers are not a fan because they couldn't connect. I can understand where that comes from. There are certain points where the narrative voice is second-person narration and you feel utterly connected. Then, there are parts where it is difficult to even understand what's going on or who is who, so it can be difficult to hang onto the connection.
I think the brilliance of this tale, though, is the fact that Morgenstern was able to create the dreamlike feel in which the reader can question what reality really means. I also loved the layering of tales and story lines. I cannot begin to imagine the process of coming up with this story and writing it. I think it is a testament to the creativity of Morgenstern and her writing skill that she pulled off this book.
I do wish the romance element had been more thoroughly established. I felt there was a disconnect between Marco and Celia at times, which is understandable but also frustrating. The love story could have been more clearly developed to provide more satisfaction to the reader.
The ending was superb. It was perfect and everything a reader could hope for in a book like this.
Overall, this is a unique read that is like nothing you've ever read. It will stand out in your mind for a long time after you're done reading. Most of all, it will make you realize that you should never be constrained by expectations or realities in your own life.
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