REVIEW #57 | THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Series or Standalone?: Standalone

Publishing Date: 13 September 2011

Synopsis (Goodreads):

“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.

“Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.”

Trigger/content warnings:

  • character death
  • abusive/toxic family relationship (I viewed it that way, but you may not)
  • blood

Representation:

  • sapphic side character

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
5/5 stars

This book makes me want to scream, but in the good way. Seriously, no one told me that I was going to fall in love with this atmospheric, gorgeous piece of art.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern follows two people — Celia and Marco — from when they are children up through when they’re young adults in their 20s. They have been instructed by their guardians that they are part of a competition where they must use their magical abilities against one another in order to win. Most of the competition takes place in a circus that travels all around the world and performs at night. However, even though they both know little of the rules — or even the competition itself — they break one of the few rules: they begin to fall in love. The question, though, is who is going to win, and who is going to lose.

I’ll start the review off by saying this: what the f u c k, Erin Morgenstern, whose soul did you sell in order to write so dang beautifully? What the hell, y’all. I’m usually not one for heavy description (and The Night Circus has plenty), but not once did I feel like I was being dragged out of the story because of it. The writing was just that good: I found myself vividly imagining what everything looked, sounded, and tasted like in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced. It was incredibly atmospheric, and I appreciate the craft and hard work that went into all of it. The language was simply amazing.

Going along with the writing, I thought that the plot (or lack thereof) is just….some good stuff. The reader gets sucked into the world and the characters’ minds, and it makes me so happy. As someone who adores character-focused stories/novels, The Night Circus is perfect for me. By the end, I felt like I really knew the characters, and I rooted for most (if not all) of them at one point or another. I enjoyed being on their journey, and honestly? I can’t wait to re-read it so I can experience it again. But yeah, if you’re expecting a huge action-oriented plot, this probably isn’t the book for you.

And now my favorite part of this entire book: the characters. For one, Celia and Marco are the only valid allocishet couple. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. On a more serious note, I truly didn’t think I was going to like them as a couple; it just seemed like yet another insta-love story. But I’m so glad I was proven wrong. While the relationship was a bit insta-love, it was executed in such a way that, at the end, it didn’t feel like that. I know that may not make a ton of sense, but like. Believe me. As someone who doesn’t like insta-love, their relationship throughout the novel was truly beautiful.

I mentioned this before, but the other characters were so fleshed out, and I absolutely loved that. They all had their own motivations and personality.

The only thing that may be considered a downside is that you never really find out why the competition happens outside of the two men, Alexander and Celia’s father, continuously going at it throughout the centuries. Or, at the very least, I didn’t grasp it as I was reading. However, the more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced that maybe not knowing their motivations is the point. Maybe the reader is supposed to grasp that they’re both so old that they don’t even remember why they partake in these competitions. Just something to think about, and I think I’ll keep it in mind the next time I read this book.

Anyway, that was just a small personal gripe I had out of the whole novel. Outside of that? This book is phenomenal, and I really do recommend it to anyone who loves character-driven stories.

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