The Boston Globe's blurb on the front of the book is one that is really quite true. Erin Morgenstern's writing is rather haunting and the ambiance of the book is something that I've never read before. While yes, the writing is haunting, it is also beautiful and slightly poetic. The mood of the story was a very important aspect of the story, which is told by an omniscient narrator. The Night Circus is a story that is unique in its writing and idea.
It was rather slow going. As other readers of this book have said, it's not a story to be rushed. The book is long and it follows many different characters, which made it difficult to particularly grow attached to any specific character, especially because there was also an omniscient third person narrator. The whole idea of the book is mystery, no one really knows everything that is going on, not even the reader. That, I believe, was one of the issues with the story. While some mystery is good, it made the story very hard to grow attached to. You, the reader, never actually get to know any of the main characters especially well. Which makes it very hard to form an attachment. While I favored some characters over others, I couldn't really relate or grow attached to them because I didn't especially know them.
I'm rather conflicted over how I feel about this book. On one hand, it's enchanting and made me stay up way too late last night. But on the other, there were so many issues with the story that I can clearly identify. One of the biggest issues, aside from the fact that it wasn't easy to connect with the characters, was that there was no clear plot. I would not describe it as plotless, because there was something going on, but the main focus was certainly not on the plot. The main focus was on the setting and the ambiance of that setting.
The Circus was certainly a magical place. While the synopsis makes the book sound as if it's a love story between Marcus and Celia, the two magicians, I would beg to differ. I agree with the reviewers that said this was more of a love story between the reader and the circus. The love story between the two characters felt rushed and too slow all at the same time. Like I said, I feel very conflicted over this story. I did enjoy the romance in the story, but it just wasn't all that. I was honestly expecting more. Maybe if we were able to see into the character's minds and more of their thoughts the romance would've felt more real, but instead we're left to see the outside and only a hint of the emotions felt.
So much of this book felt too fast and too slow at the same time. It takes a very long time to really feel even remotely interesting. No, interesting isn't the right word. It's interesting from the beginning, but invested. It takes a long time to really feel invested in the characters and setting. Notice how I didn't say plot because there wasn't much of one. The ending especially felt too fast, it all felt too rushed and wasn't explained very well. I found I felt rather unsatisfied after finishing the book.
Earlier I mentioned that the synopsis was misleading with the romance. Another place the synopsis was misleading is where it says "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."
This is not what is happening, which is why I am going to provide a different synopsis for y'all. I was expecting more of a dual. Say Hunger Games with Magic or simply something similar to The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. (There are a lot of similarities between the two books, but I'll talk about that later.) That was another factor in my disappointment in the book. I was expecting (and look forward to) a duel of sorts. There is no straight up confrontation. Instead, it's merely 400 pages of just magic-ing things in the Circus with barely any direct contact between the two magic wielders for the first two thirds of the book. I don't want to spoil it, but the competition these two are participating (unwillingly) in is not one that involves a test of strength or power, therefore it is unneeded for a direct confrontation.
Here's the 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.
Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.
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.
As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved--the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them--are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.
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.
Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern's spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages.
Basically to sum up my conflicting emotions I'll just say this. I liked this book. I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it. While there were some aspects of it that I didn't particularly love, I still enjoyed being immersed in a world of a magic that I've never seen before in any novels. All in all, I'd give the Night Circus 6.8/10 stars. It's not quite to 7 because of the (many) aspects that I didn't really enjoy about it, but it is almost to 7 because of the uniqueness of the writing and the magic of the story.
Alright, so this story has a lot of similarities to The Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye. I realize that the Crown's Game was released a while after this book, so it would not be a big surprise if Evelyn took inspiration from the Night Circus. Actually, the reason I bought the Night Circus was that I heard it was like the Crown's Game. Overall, I would have to say that I enjoyed the Crown's Game more, because it had a more direct plot, the characters were easy to grow attached to, and the competition between the two was riveting. (Basically all the main issues I had with the Night Circus.) While I do prefer the Crown's Game, I will say that I did enjoy the Night Circus (even though I spent most of this review complaining about it.) It was very unique and the writing style was quite enchanting. I do not regret reading this magical story.
Thanks for reading,