The circus comes without warning, setting up practically in your backyard without you ever hearing word of its approach. The sign on the entry gates tells you that it only opens at night, which you think is odd. But you’re willing to wait anyway. At nightfall, a crowd gathers outside the gates. You are amongst them. You pay the fee and step inside. You are surrounded by varying shades of black and white. There is no colour anywhere, but that doesn’t matter. You follow paths that twist and turn amongst a variety of tents, each one featuring a unique sight, all of them following the same black and white theme. You see things that shouldn’t be possible, but somehow are. Suddenly it feels as if there isn’t enough night-time in the world and you vow that you will return to it the next night, and the next. But the circus leaves with just as little warning as it came, and you find yourself thirsting for more.
Little do you know that the circus is more than what you at first think. It is also the venue for an intricate game being played out between two competitors, each with magical skills of their own, pitted against each other by two ancient magicians vying to see which school of thought is better. The object: compete until there is a winner. The consequences: life, love, death, and loss. Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus is a wild ride through the intricate workings of a magical circus and the people whose lives it touches, from the competitors themselves to a number of others, each with their own unique abilities. In this book, the ordinary becomes magical, and the magical becomes ordinary. Morgenstern will leave you as drunk on the circus as every single one of its visitors, dying to know where and when it will pop up next.
The Night Circus is one of the most unique books I’ve ever read, and the most unique one of 2015 thus far. It was almost like reading the directions to a stage play, which definitely added to the effect of feeling submersed in the world. It was as if I was walking through the circus myself and someone was whispering the words into my ear. The writing was absolutely gorgeous. It made the whole experience of reading feel like a fantastical dream. It seems that Morgenstern’s strength is description: I could picture everything down to the minutest detail, and it had me longing for Heirr Thiessen to be real and for his clocks to actually exist. They sound mesmerizing.
The story had a steampunk vibe to it, which was cool. It was an incredible mix of fantasy and reality, almost like Harry Potter, except this was more dream-like, almost as if you were watching the story unfold under-water. I only wish it had ebbed more on the fantasy side—that perhaps it had taken place in some distant, unheard-of land in order to take its strange vibe even further. My only other complaint is that, because the book switches focus so often, it was hard to become really invested in the characters. I did, however, find myself more attached to characters that I hadn’t expected myself to become attached to, which was a nice surprise. This book was like nothing I’ve ever read before, and I would happily read more of Morgenstern’s work.
-Ember Book Reviews xxoo
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