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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. 

The synopsis


I was reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, a breakout darling that combines black and white aesthetics with an intricate love story. As we are taken aback by the heroism of the characters, the circus imagery and the general sense of fantasy and wonder-Morgenstern invites us into a world that’s both dark and beautiful. Yet emotionally empty. It’s not a bad book: I appreciated Morgenstern’s ability to fuse universal desires of love and freedom with exciting fantastical concepts. The book was engaging, and never boring.

Our protagonist, Celia is fated to duel her future lover Marco. However, things unravel and emotions manifest powerfully. From settings such as Paris and New York- two cities known for artistic contributions- The Night Circus is strangely limited by its ambition. As the narrative jumps back and forth and covers multiple perspectives, we are unable to investigate what motivates each character. The plot also suffers, due to a lack of emergency and a predictable plot. Where The Night Circus ought to soar, it never reaches the heights in aims for. Although imaginative in its style and imagery, the plot and characters are thin and lack compelling energy.

What would have improved The Night Circus is an increased sense of focus in narrative choices, and more character depth. I’d also suggest to aspiring fantasy writers to give your protagonists hard choices. Despite Celia’s strained relationship with her father, there was no relationship dynamic that provoked significant emotion. Which is a shame, as I find romance and fantasy to be two genres that are built entirely on provoking profound emotional reactions out of the reader. The best fantasy moves the reader- whether that’s emotionally or intellectually. Sadly, The Night Circus does neither. It’s lukewarm when it ought to be sizzling hot.

Other readers may take issue with the indulgent style of the novel- there are lavish descriptions of clothing and food, each setting manifests itself as magnificent and of course, the magic itself. However, I don’t think that is the problem with this book. Morgenstern’s ability to write stylishly pays off. The Night Circus is frequently delightful, fun and pleasant to read. That’s why I would recommend this book to people who like grand settings and stylish narrative choices. Whilst the novel isn’t emotionally distinct or special in terms of plot, there is no denying that it’s unique when it comes to creating a fantasy world. Yes, I found it to be ultimately empty- but that doesn’t make reading The Night Circus a pointless experience. This novel- and it’s success- taught me the importance of engaging language and enticing the reader’s imagination. Although my grade for this novel isn’t amazing, it isn’t bad either.

If you are interested in reading The Night Circus, click here.

Grade: 67/100

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