By Erin Morgenstern
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Romance
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.04
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 breathtaking 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. (Goodreads)
Coming into 2019 I had made a point to put many fantasy books on my reading list for the year, a result of me truly discovering the genre in 2016. Up until last year, I’ve never really read very many books that are considered fantasy, at least none more advanced than the middle grade books I occasionally read while in elementary school. As a result, I found myself on a quest for notable fantasy books to introduce me to the genre the right way. I must say, The Night Circus did not disappoint.
I was lucky enough to find a copy at a local indie store, that is sadly in the process of closing as I write this. I hadn’t intended to buy the book considering that I try not to buy physical books unless I’ve already read them and like them enough to read them again. Of course, I bought the book, and I don’t regret it one bit.
This book has a very interesting concept and is subsequently enchanting in its presentation. I’ve never been a big fan of circuses, my only experience with them being Barnum and Bailey’s when I was an exceptionally young age (too young to really understand how horrible the shows were from an ethical standpoint). If such a circus as the one in the book existed I imagine many people would love circuses so much more and they’d not only be much different, but they’d still be around.
Something that I really look at when reading fantasy books is the magic system (if one is present in some form). The plot of this story is very well centred around magic, which is described well throughout the book. The only thing is that the system seems to be very soft, which in itself is not a bad thing, but something I generally don’t prefer. The implementation of a soft magic system makes sense to an extent when it comes to this book considering there is an air of mystery surrounding magic within the plot. Nevertheless, there were times I felt it detracted from the story and even a little bit more explanation would have probably alleviated this issue.
The book is overall well written with well-developed characters and vivid descriptions of their world. Regardless of this, there were still a few scenes that I found seemed ultimately unnecessary to the overarching plot. None of which were particularly severe, but noticeable enough for me to take note of them. Of course, as I writer I understand this sentiment is entirely subjective so I don’t hold this too hard against the book.
I think the only thing I truly took issue with within this book was the romantic subplot. I realize that, especially in YA, a romantic subplot of some sort is very important, but at times I found the one included in this book not particularly interesting. I was not invested in whether or not the characters got together in the end and I can definitely imagine the writer achieving a similar ending with a platonic relationship.
For being among the first to truly introduce me to the genre, I am grateful to have picked up this book in particular. Subsequently, I would recommend it to anyone new and weary of the genre much like I once was.