Secret Book Society: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Monday, March 14, 2016

Quite a few years back, I had picked up a copy of  The Night Circus from my local library; it had a cool cover and I've always like circuses. So that's a pretty good starting point for choosing books isn't it?

 Well, I got a couple chapters in and then... I kinda forgot about it.

Now, flashforward a bunch of years and I'm just sifting through my college library and this little gem popped up again. Still intrigued by the amazing cover art, I checked it out and... it sat for a while again, but mainly because I was working my way through the beast of a book , All the Light We Cannot See.

Determined to actually finish it, I impulse bought a copy off of Amazon. Once I finally set aside some time to pick it up and really get into it, I fell right into this crazy black, white ,and red world.

 The Night Circus is a magical, sensory experience. Morgenstern's writing is just so elaborately detailed that once you dive in, there's no turning back. She hits all your senses and for written work, that is quite impressive. Through her text, Morgenstern pulls you into the circus and if you allow yourself to indulge in the story, it'll almost be as good as being there in person. I will say the beginning is a bit slow, but if you truly allow yourself to enjoy this book as a journey and experience, it will really come alive.

"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The towering tents are striped in white and black, no golds and crimsons to be seen. No color at all, save for the neighboring trees and the grass of the surrounding fields. Black-and-white stripes on grey sky; countless tents of varying shapes and sizes, with an elaborate wrought-iron fence encasing them in a colorless world. Even what little ground is visible from outside is black or white, painted or powdered, or treated with some other circus trick." (The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern)

The characters are vibrant and complex, as is the world they live in. Each are so intriguing and mysterious in their past that you are just dying to have them over as a dinner guest. It can be hard at times to keep track of everyone and follow along with the timeline, but it makes the reading experience fun!

Personally, I had never read anything like this before, this isn't your classic Harry Potter rip-off, this is a whole world of its own. I completely appreciate that Morgenstern took the time to construct this fantasy universe where magic exists, but in such a reasonable manor. There are boundaries and rules to this magic, but the book doesn't dwell on the whole system of it. Instead, it focuses on the story.

 Ultimately, this is a love story, but I wouldn't limit the audience of this book to YA fantasy readers. It is fantasy, but it is tastefully done and it's not childish at all. All the imagery of the circus and its performers creates such a lovely and enchanting aura that will bring out the wonder and desire in any reader. Who doesn't want to be whisked away to the midnight dinners? or smell the hot cider wafting through the tents? This isn't your mother's good ol' Big Apple Circus, this circus pushes the boundaries and materializes ideas only found in people's dreams.

On a side note, I found Morgenstern's inspiration for this story quite interesting as well. It actually started off as a NaNoWriMo piece (National Novel Writing Month for those who don't know), a challenge I had actually attempted in high school (although I didn't finish). She is also from the Boston area, and being from the area myself, I do enjoy reading other local authors. Lastly, a huge portion of inspiration was drawn from a production called Sleep No More, and being a drama student, I found this to be the most appealing fact about the story. It would take too long to go into detail about the connection, but if you make a quick google search on Sleep No More, you can definitely see the parallels in the production and the book.

Final Notes:  The Night Circus is the perfect read for a chilly fall day when you are looking to escape into the dream-like Cirque de Reves itself. It's perfect for the YA reader to the oldest of dreamers. When you finish it, it will have left a small hole in your heart, but you will know that you can always pick the book back up and visit it again.

Society Rating: 5/5 

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