Book Review: The Night Circus

Book Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus opens with the line, “The circus comes without warning.” In many ways, this line easily applies to the experience of reading the novel itself as it applies also to the plot. Erin Morgenstern’s novel is as obscure, intriguing, and unexpectedly delightful as her fictional Cirque Des Rèves.

A rich, multi-layered tale, The Night Circus follows the tale of Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, two magicians pitted against one another in a competition in which they never quite wanted to participate. The story spans decades, beginning with a six-year old Celia and a nine-year old Marco, then ending when the pair have grown up and fallen in love. Along the way, several subplots develop. The circus grows and changes, as do its patrons and performers. Though the plot remains focused on the competition between Celia and Marco, several subplots arise throughout the course of the novel that keep the story from growing tedious or tired.

Though many could consider the central plot cliche, The Night Circus never falls into predictability. Morgenstern has truly exhibited a phenomenal display of imagination, and the plot never grows stale because of the rich detail. The characters also keep the novel engaging, each one carefully crafted to develop uniquely, no matter how small their role in the central plot.

The most remarkable thing about The Night Circus, though, is the mood that runs throughout the work. The reader truly feels part of the fictional circus, as each section of the book opens with a vignette of the circus written in the second person. This technique truly brings the story to life. Morgenstern’s diction, tone, and the pacing of the story also set a whimsical, mysterious, and darkly beautiful mood.

Without a doubt, Erin Morgenstern has accomplished what few in her genre can: she has created a world so intricate readers will find themselves turning pages until the early hours of the morning. The circus may appear without warning, but it will not soon disappear for readers.