Monday, December 19, 2011

Review: Night Circus

Night Circus

Author: Erin Morgenstern (Her first novel, astounding!)


The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

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. Unbeknownst to them, 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. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Published 13 September 2011


This is a book that gets me really conflicted.

I don't know whether to frame it up and worship it to the end of time or throw it down my window.


This is definitely my book of 2011!

The world that Morgenstern crafts is one that reeks of the cigar and smoke of the turn of the century England with its glamorous parties like The Great Gatsby, men with bowler hats in the Victorian Era, all with a splash of magic and romance.

The magic that defines Night Circus is one that is so real and grounded that it fits seamlessly into our world. Magicians who present their magic behind the masks of illusions walk in strides amongst the crowds of Paris and New York, disturbingly at ease. Yet, behind all these, is the coming-of-age tale of a girl who is brought up by the cruelty of her father and the orphan boy who grasps at magic through books and detached guidance.

Celia is born with talent, and her father, Prospero the Enchanter, rears her in a forceful way. An example would be how he cuts off her fingers one by one for her to grow them back with steel determination.

On the contrary, Marcus is a handsome and cold boy who is adopted by a mysterious man in grey suit, Mr A. H. who teaches him magic as a skill that can be taught.

Can two people who have never been loved learn to love each other? Turns out the answer is yes, YAY!

And though no reason is offered to the two young proteges, the truth is that they are groomed to proxy the rivalry of the older generation with the circus as a stage for them to perform.

That's when the real magic of it all comes in, in the mysterious and beguiling black and white circus with all of its enchanting tents that had me drooling on the plane (yes I was reading it there, elbows crooked, head slanted and everyone around me was sleeping stone-dead). 

The writing is too beautiful for words, I'll leave the good ones for you to discover and post one of the "normal" ones which are already too good to be true:

But that is before it is wound. Before it begins to tick, the pendulum swinging steadily and evenly. Then, then it becomes something else. The changes are slow. First, the color changes in the face, shifts from white to grey, and then there are clouds that float across it, disappearing when they reach the opposite side. Meanwhile, bits of the body of the clock expand and contract, like pieces of a puzzle. As though the clock is falling apart, slowly and gracefully.

All of this takes hours.

The face of the clock becomes a darker grey, and then black, with twinkling stars where the numbers had been previously. The body of the clock, which has been methodically turning itself inside out and expanding, is now entirely subtle shades of white and grey. And it is not just pieces, it is figures and objects, perfectly carved flowers and planets and tiny books with actual paper pages that turn. There is a silver dragon that curls around part of the now visible clockwork, a tiny princess in a carved tower who paces in distress, awaiting an absent prince. Teapots that pour into teacups and minuscule curls of steam that rise from them as the seconds tick. Wrapped presents open. Small cats chase small dogs. An entire game of chess is played. At the center, where a cuckoo bird would live in a more traditional timepiece, is the juggler. Dressed in harlequin style with a grey mask, he juggles shiny silver balls that correspond to each hour. As the clock chimes, another ball joins the rest until at midnight he juggles twelve balls in a complex pattern. After midnight the clock begins once more to fold in upon itself. The face lightens and the clouds return. The number of juggled balls decreases until the juggler himself vanishes.

By noon it is a clock again, and no longer a dream.

Well, the above is what makes me want to immortalize the novel in frame for eternity, next I will talk about how I wanted to let it BURN.

Well the thing is, Erin Morgenstern writes the novel in time jumps. So for the first half of the novel, it proceeds from 1870 to 1880 etc, and then when we see Marcus and Celia meet, the next chapter jumps all the way to 1900...

There are two stories going on, one is of Marcus and Celia as they compete with magic, enhances the circus all the while falling in love. The other is one of Bailey and Poppet who are ten years younger than Marcus and Celia. Poppet is the daughter of another performer in the Circus, and she and her twin, Widget, are trainers of kittens in a special tent. How Bailey, a visitor of the circus winds up in the turmoil of it all is up to you to find out.

Just when we are really in love with Poppet and Bailey, the next chapter goes back to Celia and Marcus again, not that I am complaining.

The two stories eventually merge for the remaining quarter of the book.

But just when you think all is perfect, it turns out that in the duel between Marcus and Celia, there can only be one left standing.

So that's when I realize that Erin Morgenstern has been reeling in the threads all along and everything finally makes sense.

Not that I'm going to tell you anyway.

This is a book that will make you a painfully meticulous reader simply because you can't bear missing out any details.

One sad thing though, the romance was not a main focus of Night Circus, and the parts that were about it left me yearning for more fizzling  hot sparks. Sigh.

But, sure, the writing is good enough for any reader with high standards.

Written in rich, seductive prose, Night Circus is a spell-casting novel that will be a feast for the senses and a song for the heart!

Source: Happily Purchased

Merry Merry Christmas,

The step through the gates that takes you from painted ground to bare grass feels heavy.

You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.

You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.


  1. Excellent review! I love The Great Gatsby. 这应该是我目前看过最好的review!

  2. Your writing in this review is really good!! And I can't wait to go reread poppet and bailey's love story :D

  3. One of my favourite books of all time <3

  4. I kept hearing the name around A LOT, but never got what the book was about, now I do and wow it sounds amazing! I'd love to read it!

    1. It is amazing :) You will fall head over heels in love with it!

  5. I just discovered your blog, and I'm really liking it! Thank you for this review, I'm so glad you liked this because I've been meaning to read it for a while!
    Oh and if you had time, would you mind looking at my blog? I started it today so I only have one post. Haha.

  6. I LOVED this book!! I wish there was more romance too though :( The writing was just the most beautiful thing ever and I was really taken by surprise with this book. Great review :)

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