The Night Circus
“Overall, The Night Circus is a wondrously dark and entrancing story, taking place in a world that is truly a departure into a limitless magical realm, a story whose sole purpose is to delight and entertain. . . . Erin Morgenstern has captured lightning in a bottle, enchanting the hearts and minds of readers with a captivating tale of magic and fantasy so rarely seen in a debut.”
Five-year-old Celia meets her father, a world-class illusionist, after her mother commits suicide. Noticing that his daughter not only has his eyes, but also possesses his special talents, Prospero places a wager with a mysterious man in a gray suit, which will pit Celia against an opponent of the grey man’s choosing in a veritable magical duel to the death.
As each man trains his student, Celia, nor her unwitting challenger Marco, will know they are in competition—nor what the rules are.
Behind the scenes, a handful of wealthy sponsors create the foundation for the competition, in the form of a circus—Cirque des Reves—that appears out of nowhere, opens at dusk, closes by dawn and disappears without a word.
Compelled by the beauty of the circus, Marco and Celia use their abilities to add exquisite attractions to entertain and fascinate its visitors.
Though they meet on rare occasions, Marco and Celia fall in love, complicating the wager for all involved. Before long, the couple begins creating beautiful exhibits as gifts to each other, causing the competition to take on a whole new dimension. When the reality of their situation and the breadth of the competition become clear to them, Marco and Celia must figure out a way to avoid its fatal conclusion.
Telling a hauntingly beautiful tale, Erin Morgenstern’s prose conveys a nostalgic ease and timeless grace of a bygone era. Her colorful descriptions, among monotone landscapes immerse the reader in richly saturated images that tantalize the mind, while the remaining senses provide finishing touches to the experience.
Amid the beauty are scattered hints of the elegantly macabre which seeks to enhance the impact and does so perfectly: Mme. Ana Padva, a retired Romanian prima ballerina . . . “Wears a dress of black silk, hand embroidered with intricate patterns of cherry blossoms . . . Her silver hair is piled atop of her head and held in place with a small jeweled black cage. A choker of perfectly cut scarlet rubies circles her neck, putting forth a vague impression of her throat having been slit.”
Ms. Morgenstern’s introduction of a vast array of characters may have only scratched the surface in regard to their development, but even with such limited information and unconventional portrayal, its use within the scope of the story just seems to work.
Another non-traditional approach is used for the romantic story arc in regard to the main characters being kept apart for most of the book. Additionally, the use of nonlinear narrative is a slight distraction and causes some confusion; however, paying extra attention to the dates helps to sort it out.
Overall, The Night Circus is a wondrously dark and entrancing story, taking place in a world that is truly a departure into a limitless magical realm, a story whose sole purpose is to delight and entertain. Though she leaves a few questions unanswered, Erin Morgenstern has captured lightning in a bottle, enchanting the hearts and minds of readers with a captivating tale of magic and fantasy so rarely seen in a debut.