I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up The Night Circus while browsing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, but I definitely did not expect to end up rereading it for a class I would take in college the following year. I remember thinking circus, hmmm, sounds like it could be fun, but I was not prepared to be taken on a wild ride of magical twists and turns. The plot is so complex and complicated, and at times confusing, that I can’t even think of a good way to describe it so here is a little blurb from Goodreads instead:
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not … 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.”
There’s a little bit of romance and a lot perspective changing and time jumps, so be ready to read this novel with your mind fully engaged. In reading The Night Circus for the second time, I picked up on so much that I had missed in reading it the first time around (though that happens with nearly every novel I read)!
Morgenstern has a very unique style and I really enjoyed the whimsical and removed nature of her writing which works particularly well with the magic and mysterious happenings of The Night Circus. The narrative is told through a very high lens and, as a reader, you feel like you are floating above the events in the story, like a bookish ghost way up in the sky.
The romance in this novel is only what I would call a splattering, not as central or as much as many other novels, but enough for me to be invested in the relationship between Marco and Celia. Though it is a while before the two characters even meet, there is already magnetic (or should I say magical) tension between the two. The way they circle each other and interact always seems very high-stakes and will have you screaming at the pages, antagonizing over the will-they-won’t-they romance.
I like that all the pieces of the story, all the different strings of events, don’t come fully together until the end of the novel. Then there’s that AH-HA moment at the very end when it all clicks together and everything finally makes sense. The whole story is mysterious, even ominous at times, and despite my best attempt, I couldn’t figure out the ending for myself so it was a relief and a surprise to read about the big reveal at the end.
I give The Night Circus four stars for its originality and whimsicalness, and especially for its complex and perplexing world of magic. Morgenstern has created a beautiful story that I think fans of Caraval would especially enjoy. Read this book if you are looking for a good, fantastical mystery that will make your mind work a little harder than it would reading most other novels. I certainly enjoyed it and I think many other readers would as well!
Have you read The Night Circus? Tell me what you thought about it in the comments!