The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Rating 9.0/10
I found this book extraordinary.

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 breath-taking amazements. 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, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love - a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game 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.

You have to ask yourself… Wouldn’t it be great to believe in magic?

I found this book extraordinary, with so much thought put into not only the story - which unfolds like a carefully constructed maze - but also into the presentation of the hardback edition, which fits perfectly within the spectacle of the story.

When reading the book I noticed that it often jumped back and forth between the years, from the time before the Circus was even so much as an idea in the characters' heads to a time when the Circus was an established sensation. This was at first be disconcerting and I found that I really had to pay close attention. The story itself centres around two characters, Celia and Marco, who as children are bound to a competition whose rules they are not told, nor are the consequences of made clear. The people that have thrust them into this competition are two highly skilled magic users, one of whom is Celia’s father Hector Bowen - who has decided his daughter is the ultimate competitor - and a man only known as Mr A. H.. They both have wildly different approaches to teaching magic to their respective students.

Around Celia and Marco we are given a cast of people who come into their lives and are changed by knowing them. These include Frederick Thiessen, who starts off as a maker of exquisite clocks before becoming more entwined with the Night Circus and its inhabitants. We never know how many people work and live within the circus or realise the extent of the magic that guides them.

For a debut novelist I believe Erin Morgenstern has made a very good first impression. The Night Circus is a strong story which has the tendency to drift into the unbelievable but when is it not nice to suspend disbelief and and fall into a story.

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