“Something about the circus stirs their souls and they ache for it when it is absent.” ~~ Erin Morgenstern
From Krista’s Perspective:
This book was possibly the most imaginative, vividly inspiring, colorful, whimsical, and descriptive piece of work I have read in a long time. Every chapter, scene, or character was so detailed that the reader cannot help but become fully immersed in this world. I won’t deny that I was not slightly hesitant to begin a book based on magician’s and a circus; not my personal cup of tea as I am not a huge circus fan, but I was pleasantly surprised and tore through this book as quickly as school, work, and life would allow.
The Night Circus takes the reader into a world full of manipulations, deceit, magic, family letdowns, love triangles, and mystery. Everything involved in this story should, and I put strong emphasis on the word “should”, make for extreme sensory overload causing the reader to become overwhelmed and inundated with information. Morgenstern somehow masters this and keeps the reader fascinated. I was well over halfway through the book when Lauren pointed out the fact that maybe the dates at the beginning of every chapter should be paid attention to, but there was so much else going on I chose to not backtrack and try to piece it together. Personally, I don’t feel as though I missed out on anything by not tracking the dates but this is my head’s up for those who are extremely detail-oriented!!
The only negative aspect to the book for me was how many characters were being introduced at different times as it became difficult to keep up with them all and distinguish between them. The main characters, of which there are many as compared to a normal book, are easy enough to follow but the surplus of supporting characters makes for a lot of extra detail/info to process.
I already used my absolute favorite part of the book in a separate post titled Why We Write (https://thelobstercommentary.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/a-brennergowing-thought-part-two-why-we-write/) because the way Morgenstern describes the power of writing and why we do it truly spoke to both Lauren and I. It deserved its own separate place so I won’t repeat that here. Instead I am going to very quickly mention, in probably a terribly abbreviated manner and style, just a few of the other parts that I truly enjoyed/appreciated or personally connected with. It really is a book to personally enjoy with many scenes or plot points that will shock you so I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. It was hard enough to not send Lauren a message while reading to gasp, “Oh my god!!!! Celia just ____________ and the contortionist is actually ________!”. I wouldn’t dream to do that here either so very briefly here are the four main things were what I connected to the most in the Night Circus.
1. The powerful bond between Marco and Celia which was only magnified by the intensity of the game they had both been unwillingly thrust into. A truly tragic love story that is both unexpected and hoped for; one that speaks to those of us with a soul mate who we have an inexplicable bond with. “People do not understand how it is to be bound to someone in such a way. It is never simple. The other person becomes how you define your life, how you define yourself. They become as necessary as breathing.” ~ (Tsukiko to Celia)
2. The travelling passion of the Reveurs, the devoted followers of the circus, who were willing to go anywhere and do anything just to bear witness to one more night of the circus. As someone who has moved to multiple countries to pursue a dream, I found this extremely relatable. “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.” ~ (Elizabeth to Bailey)
3. Reading of the loss of a loved one and the severed connection felt when they are violently taken from this world. “I do not see as well without her. I do not hear as well without her. I do not feel as well without her. I would be better off without a hand or a leg than without [her]. We have all lost our [friend], but I have lost a part of myself” ~ (speaker withheld and quote semi-modified so as not to ruin any major plot points!)
4. The brief interludes between chapters, which were visually pleasurable and extremely descriptive, provided the reader a momentary break from the plot with no new information to process. But it was also the opportunity for the circus itself to grow in our minds and become almost a character in and of itself. Morgenstern thoroughly described the rooms, the tents, the acts, the living statues; each aspect of the circus got its own “moment in the spotlight” in one of these interludes to not simply be background information but to be the star. This only added to the mysticism of the circus and allowed the reader to connect with how all the loyally obsessive followers were drawn to the circus.
All in all, it was a great book and a fascinating read even if it became overwhelming at times with the countless characters being added or the extremely descriptive background information. If you don’t want to have to choose between a mystery, romance, or magical novel then choose to read one that perfectly balances all three.
Plot – 5 out of 5
Writing/Style/Form – 4 out of 5
Characters – 3 out of 5 (there were so many it was hard to become completely enthralled with each of them)
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 5 0ut of 5
Overall Score – 17 out of 20
From Lauren’s Perspective:
“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world – Oscar Wilde” – Erin Morgenstern in The Night Circus
To me, The Night Circus, was magnificent. It was a beautifully written tale with Shakespearean undertones of two star crossed lovers who were destined to be together despite feuding families, deceitful games and manipulation. It was an intricate story of an intricate love. Celia and Marco do not understand what is happening to them and what has been chosen for them, instead they react based on their feelings, and their feelings lead them closer and closer to each other. Marco says, “I would rather burn by her side than live without her.” It is in this intense declaration that the entire love story can be summed up. It is satiated with feeling and written perfectly to allow the reader to share in that feeling.
Morgenstern has a knack for doing just that, she allows her reader to feel in a way that is often absent in novels today. Many novels of lesser quality can draw you in with their interesting storyline and keep you reading because of this, but they generally do nothing more. In Morgenstern’s novel, she gives the reader more than feeling. She gives the reader a chance to experience what will never be possible.
In the second person interludes that are scattered throughout the novel, you had a chance to immerse yourself in the circus in a way that made it feel as though it is you personally walking through the tents, you personally making the choices of which tents to visit, and you personally making the choices of where to go next.
Through her overly descriptive style it would be easy to lose your place amidst the plethora of words, but instead you find yourself. Morgentstern allows you to taste the circus, smell it and feel it all around you. This novel is beautifully written and a beautifully told story on top of that.
I won’t reiterate Krista’s sentiments about the dates except to say that it is easier not to pay too much attention to them. When I became curious enough, I went back over the chapters to attempt to understand the chronology. However, it goes from past to present to past again while the entire novel is written as a story being told from a certain future. I think it is simpler to just read without giving too much thought to the disorder of time.
Having stayed positive in terms of the books beautiful writing and intricate plot, the one area it did falter slightly was perhaps the character development. As Krista pointed out, there were a lot of people to take in and a lot to keep track of. Some characters who seemed very important did not have justice done to their back stories. The story of Tsukiko could have been elaborated on greatly, with importance placed on her past with the games. The man in the grey suit was absent despite his seemingly important role throughout the novel, as was Prospero the Enchanter after his unfortunate accident. Much was left unclear because the characters were not elaborated on in the same way the surroundings of the circus was. And for that, and only that, this novel suffered.
Overall, the book was more than satisfactory. It does a wonderful job of enabling you to escape reality and enter a different reality; one where magic is possible, dreams are real, and soul crushing love is what makes the world continue and stop and continue again.
Plot – 5 out of 5
Writing/Style/Form – 5 out of 5
Characters – 2 out of 5
Enjoyment/Entertainment Value – 4 out of 5
Overall Score – 16 out of 20