Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Life, Reading / Wednesday, May 16th, 2018


And it was awesome.


Okay, so, The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern is technically a fantasy novel that follows the rials and tribulations of a traveling circus in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are dozens of characters, all very, very well-described, and all with key moments and scenes that are presented in a non-linear fashion.

At the beginning we meet our two protagonists: Celia and Marco. Celia is the unwanted daughter of a talented musician who travels the world pretending that his actual magical spells are really just tricks. He begins training Celia in the art of magic early, and in the most brutal of ways. Marco is an orphan who is chosen by a rival of Celia’s father to be Celia’s competition. Before they’ve even met, Marco and Ceila are forced to enter into a magical competition against one another, bound to a game that they don’t understand by the selfish men who raised them.

The first few chapters are dark and slow. Trudging through the misery of Marco and Celia’s childhoods is rough reading, and it literally took me a month to get through these first 100 pages. But then they join the circus.

And it’s not just any circus; a top London producer named Chandresh puts together a team of creatives in order to design the most magical show on earth. And they succeed, but not for the reasons they planned. Chandresh hires Marco as his assistant, giving Marco the proximity he needs to show off his magic skills within the circus. And Celia is hired as the circus’ Illusionist, so she is also able to show off her skills. In this way, the Night Circus becomes the venue for their long and winding competition.

There are so many other colorful characters that play a part in this game of magic, but I can’t do them justice in this review, so I’ll just focus on the main couple.

For years and years, Celia and Marco produce beautiful works of magic within the circus, trying to one-up each other. But their magic comes with consequences; it halts the aging process and fogs the memory of the production team, and strains on their own spirits and strength.

Once Celia and Marco finally begin interacting, things become even more complicated because they fall madly in love. This is what made the story most compelling for me, I gotta admit. These two lonely, confused magicians fumbling their way through a tame-warped romance was just so bizarre and interesting. By the time they finally like, kiss, they’re already so intertwined magically that they’re pretty much bound to the circus for life. They spend the rest of the novel trying to figure out a way out of the game they were forced into so that they can spend their lives together. But this process turns out to be the most deadly of them all. What Marco and Celia want is so simple, but the game is so, so complex.

I ended up really loving this book, but it is NOT for everyone.

You should only read it if…

  • You enjoy non-linear narratives
  • You like lengthy, detailed descriptions of settings and characters and clothing, ect.
  • You’re kind of into fantasy stuff, but not high-fantasy stuff. (This is no Game of Thrones. It’s not an epic, it’s a story)
  • You have it in paper form. I had to flip around so much to decipher the narrative that i would never dream of getting this as a kindle book.

I think Morganstern is a great writer; this book came out of NaNoWriMo, an event I’ve completed three times myself, and I’d be lying if I said the existence of a book like this didn’t give me hope for all the random stories I’ve got lingering on my hard drive.

I hope you enjoyed this long-overdue book review!

I’ll be back this weekend with a recap of my first Barrys Bootcamp experience!

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