“The Night Circus” is a “Phantasmagorical” fairy tale set near London about a circus that has no set schedule. As a critic of a good first sentence, I was pleased with this one: “The circus arrives without warning.”
The night circus is a backdrop for a contest that is set up by two men competing with each other for “bragging rights”. These two men have been in competition before but this time the stakes are very high: they each find a player but only the winner will live. One of the men, Prospero, pits his daughter, Celia against an unknown competitor. This unknown young man, Marco, is a worthy competitor and eventually falls in love with Celia which completely changes the rules of the game.
The book describes their contest which takes place at the night circus and pits two different styles of magic against the other. As the story unfolds we learn that it’s about how Marco and Celia deal with the repurcussions of magic when placed in a public venue and in a world that does not believe in such things. Celia believes “it’s a test of stamina and control, not skill.”
Eventually, Marco and Celia creatively find a way to resolve their conflict and the book brings all of the other characters together. Cleverly, the book ends as it begins with the same sentence: “The circus arrives without warning.”
I enjoyed this book because it was unique and grabbed my attention immediately with it’s descriptive scenes, creative plot and high quality writing. However, it is a longish book at over 500 pages and it’s not very linear. That said, with the plot turns and creative subtleties it made for a very good book discussion.
This is Erin Morgenstern’s first novel and it was published in 2011 by Doubleday after being rejected by over 30 literary agents. The writing is brilliant and cleverly put together. All in all, I enjoyed this book and since it is so clever and unusual I felt it to be “blogworthy”.
I will end with a quote from the book by one of the characters that sums up how I felt about it: “The finest pleasures are always the unexpected ones.”