Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Publisher: Doubleday (Penguin)
Time taken to read: 12 days
Goodreads synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. […] Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves. Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, 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. […] But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands. Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.
I bumped this up on my to-read list because one of my managers at Barnes & Noble told me that she loved it and that she was interested in my opinion on it because it seems like people either love it or hate it. I definitely didn’t hate it. I have a handful of criticisms, but I really liked it a lot. I really liked the third person omniscient narration and the way the book wasn’t exactly written from beginning to end but jumped around on the timeline of the circus. It made everything more fantastical, like everyone was time-traveling as well as doing magic. You know, it was actually less like time-traveling and more like time just not being linear, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t. Anyway, I know this was a good book because I was really feeling things, especially near the end. Like, I almost teared up. I liked Herr Thiessen a lot, but I can’t really figure out why. He just seemed really cool. I liked Bailey’s character because he wasn’t exactly the chosen one, but he was important. It was like his role in the circus was an accident and meant to be at the same time. And Poppet was my other favorite, which I think was because of a combination of her curly red hair and her ability to read the stars. That’s also why I liked Isobel–she could see things about people but didn’t always share how much she knew. And her heartbreak nearly destroyed the circus, and I almost wish it had because she was used. Marco said it himself–he never loved her but he just never got around to telling her because he didn’t really care what happened to her. He treated her like garbage, which is a big part of why I’m not giving this five stars. I think after all of Celia’s years of abuse in her childhood, she deserved someone less flaky and dismissive.
As for my other criticisms, I thought the ending was dragged out a lot longer than it needed to be. Once I was about forty pages from the end, I was like, oh my god, just tell me what happens already. A lot of the descriptions fell flat for me. Like, when the cloud maze was being described, I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at. I couldn’t picture it at all with what was given to me. Other than those things, it was a very unique story. It definitely swept me away and made me forget that I am a person with a real life that is not fiction (as far as I know), so I would definitely recommend giving it a go.